Harvey Weinstein’s legal woes mount

Harvey Weinstein, center, leaves Manhattan Criminal Court Monday. Barry Williams/New York Daily News

LOS ANGELES — Harvey Weinstein has been charged with four counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles County, deepening the legal peril faced by the fallen Hollywood mogul as his trial on similar charges in New York City is set to begin this month.

The charges stem from accusations brought by a pair of women who say Weinstein attacked them in hotels in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills in 2013, District Attorney Jackie Lacy said during a downtown news conference Monday.

“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit crimes against them,” Lacey said in a statement. “I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them.”

Weinstein has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Donna Rotunno, his defense attorney in the New York case, declined to comment on the Los Angeles County case.

Weinstein will be charged with forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint, prosecutors said in a statement. Neither victim has been identified publicly. One woman is among the six victims expected to testify against Weinstein in the New York trial, prosecutors said.

Three other cases remain under review for possible charges, Lacey said.

Charges in L.A. County will only deepen the legal peril faced by Weinstein, who appeared in a downtown Manhattan courtroom Monday. Jury selection was expected to begin today in his trial there.

In New York, Weinstein is charged with first-degree rape, two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of first-degree sexual assault and one count of third-degree rape. Mimi Haleyi, a former production assistant for Weinstein’s company, has accused the mogul of assaulting her in 2006. A second unidentified woman also told police Weinstein attacked her in New York in 2013.

Weinstein has become inextricably linked to the MeToo movement since 2017, when more than 80 women began making sexual battery and assault accusations against him.

His attorneys have repeatedly tried to paint most of the encounters as consensual.

Women’s rights activists praised Lacey’s announcement Monday. Gloria Allred, who represents several women involved in the cases in both New York and Los Angeles County, said the “walls are closing in” on the former Hollywood titan.

“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,” she said in an email. “Women are no longer willing to suffer in silence and are willing to testify under oath in a court of law.”

Tribune Wire

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