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Handcuffed Weinstein faces rape charge in #MeToo reckoning

Colleen Long, Associated Press | 5/26/2018, 7:55 a.m.
It was the moment the #MeToo movement had been waiting for: Harvey Weinstein in handcuffs.
Harvey Weinstein listens during a court proceeding in New York on Friday, May 25, 2018. Weinstein was arraigned Friday on rape and other charges in the first criminal prosecution to result from the wave of allegations against him that sparked a national reckoning over sexual misconduct. (Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP, Pool)

NEW YORK — It was the moment the #MeToo movement had been waiting for: Harvey Weinstein in handcuffs.

His face pulled in a strained smile and his hands locked behind his back, the once-powerful Hollywood figure emerged from a police station Friday facing rape and criminal sex act charges, a searing reckoning for the man who became a symbol of a worldwide outcry over sexual misconduct.

"This defendant used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually," Manhattan Assistant Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said later, in words that brought raised eyebrows from the otherwise stony-faced Weinstein.

The charges stem from encounters with two of the dozens of women — some famous, some not — who have accused him of sexual misdeeds. The rape charge involves a woman who has not come forward publicly; the other is a onetime aspiring actress who was among his first accusers.

Weinstein has consistently denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex.

His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said Friday that he would fight to get the charges dismissed.

And he began to take aim at the accusations and accusers, noting that the alleged attacks weren't reported to police when they happened and suggesting potential jurors wouldn't believe the women.

"Assuming," he added, "we get 12 fair people who are not consumed by the movement that seems to have overtaken this case."

Asked about the raft of other allegations against Weinstein, Brafman said the case was a question of crime, not bad behavior.

"Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood," the attorney said.

Weinstein was released on $1 million bail, with constant electronic monitoring and a ban on traveling beyond New York and Connecticut.

As he surrendered, the 66-year-old Weinstein found himself surrounded by lights and cameras in a spectacle he couldn't control.

"You sorry, Harvey?" came a shout from a throng of media as the once powerful movie mogul was led into a lower Manhattan courthouse.

Asked "what can you say?" Weinstein mildly shook his head and softly said "no."

Earlier, he lumbered into a police station carrying books that harkened to his show-business roots: one on the Broadway songwriting team of Rodgers and Hammerstein, and another about famed film director Elia Kazan.

During a half-hour in a cell, officials said, he sat on the floor and flipped through the Kazan biography. Later, in a courthouse booking area, he complained he felt faint and his handcuffs were too tight. Officers used three, linked sets to put his hands behind his back — a common procedure for heavyset prisoners. Other suspects who recognized him yelled out, "Yo, Harvey!"

The top charges against him carry the potential for up to 25 years in prison.

He's accused of confining a woman in a Manhattan hotel room and raping her in 2013, according to a court complaint.

The criminal sex act charge stems from a 2004 encounter between Weinstein and Lucia Evans, a then-aspiring actress who told The New Yorker magazine he forced her to perform oral sex during a daytime meeting in his office.