Harvey Weinstein, the former film mogul whose alleged pattern of sexual abuse fueled the #MeToo movement, was charged in Los Angeles on Monday with sexually assaulting two women, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney.
The charges come on the eve of jury selection in a criminal trial against Weinstein in New York, where he has been charged with felony sexual assault.
Weinstein is being charged in Los Angeles with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents on two consecutive days in February 2013, the district attorney’s office said.
“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said, adding that prosecutors were recommending bail be set at $5 million.
If convicted as charged, Weinstein faces up to 28 years in state prison. He has vehemently denied all accusations of nonconsensual sexual activity.
Jan. 6, 202001:27
Lacey’s office has been reviewing as many as nine alleged sexual assault cases against the producer, as NBC News has previously reported. The cases are being reviewed by the office’s entertainment sex crimes task force.
The news of the charges came just hours after Rose McGowan, Rosanna Arquette and other women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct rallied near a New York City courthouse as he arrived for the first day of his criminal trial.
Weinstein, 67, entered the courthouse hunched over a walker after a reported back surgery. When asked how he was feeling, the visibly disheveled ex-producer smiled wanly.
But across the street, several women who have said they were harassed or assaulted by Weinstein insisted he was undeserving of sympathy, recounting his pattern of alleged serial sexual abuse and decrying the culture they claim enabled him for far too long.
“He looked cowardly. He wouldn’t look at us. He wouldn’t make eye contact,” said Sarah Ann Masse, a writer and performer who alleged in an exclusive interview with Variety that Weinstein sexually harassed her while wearing his underwear during a 2008 job interview. “This trial is a cultural reckoning, regardless of its legal outcome.”
Masse called on the jury to “make the right decision and put this dangerous man behind bars, where he can live out the rest of his days paying for his crimes.”
Weinstein faces charges that he raped a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on another woman in 2006. The activity in the courtroom Monday was largely procedural before proceedings were adjourned for the day, with jury selection expected to begin Tuesday.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty in the case.
In all, more than 80 women have accused him of sexual misconduct going back decades, but the New York criminal trial centers on allegations from just two women. The allegations first came to light more than two years ago in investigative reports published by The New York Times and The New Yorker.
Gloria Allred, the powerful civil rights lawyer who is representing Weinstein accusers in Los Angeles and New York, said in a statement that the “walls of justice are closing in on” him.
“Mr. Weinstein’s journey to justice is long overdue and the criminal justice system in Los Angeles is now forcing him to confront the accusers against him. Women are no longer willing to suffer in silence and are willing to testify under oath in a court of law,” Allred said.
“We look forward to a just result and I am confident that Mr. Weinstein will receive the justice that he deserves,” she added.
In a notable development Monday, the judge in the case ruled that Weinstein’s defense cannot call to the witness stand the New York police detective who allegedly told an accuser to delete personal cell phone files to hide them from prosecutors, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
The judge, James B. Burke, ruled that Weinstein’s lawyers cannot call NYPD Det. Nicholas DiGaudio, but they may question other witnesses about him.
The union representing DiGaudio, the Detectives’ Endowment Association, has previously claimed he was “simply trying to get to the truth” and did not seek to influence the probe, according to The Associated Press.
“Time’s up,” Arquette said, referring to the anti-harassment movement of the same name. “Time’s up on sexual harassment in all workplaces. Time’s up on blaming survivors. Time’s up on empty apologies without consequences, and time’s up on the pervasive culture of silence that has enabled abusers like Weinstein.”
Lauren Sivan, a television reporter who claims Weinstein exposed himself in front of her and ordered her to stay quiet while he masturbated, dismissed claims from his legal team that the accusations were not credible.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire,” Sivan said, flanked by other accusers and a crowd of news reporters.
McGowan, the actress and activist who has accused Weinstein of rape, paid tribute to the women who are scheduled to testify during the criminal trial, saying they stood for many other accusers who may not get the chance to speak in court.
“They are standing for us, and I am immensely proud of them,” McGowan told reporters. “We didn’t have our day. But hopefully they will. Their victory will be our victory. Their loss will be our loss.”
When asked to respond to a recent interview in which Weinstein said he felt like his purported efforts to advocate for women in the entertainment industry had been forgotten, McGowan called him a “moron.”
The high-stakes trial could decide Weinstein’s fate. If he is convicted of the most serious charges, two counts of felony predatory sexual assault, he could go to prison for life.
Caitlin Dulany, an actress who has said that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a hotel room during the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, told NBC News in a phone interview on Monday morning that she was hopeful.
“The idea that he will get off is just so unimaginable to me at this point,” Dulany said.
“I am hoping to see the justice system catch up with modern culture, and I do believe that this trial may illuminate what needs to change within our legal system and show the cracks, but also provide justice to us, his survivors.