The Los Angeles County District Attorney announced Monday it has filed four counts of sexual assault charges against disgraced Hollywood power broker Harvey Weinstein.
The new charges are forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint, the DA's office said in a press release, adding that arraignment would be scheduled at a later date.
"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," DA Jackie Lacey said in the release. "I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them. It is my hope that all victims of sexual violence find strength and healing as they move forward."
Prosecutors allege Weinstein went to a hotel and raped a woman in February 2013 after pushing his way inside her room and sexually assaulting a women at a hotel suite in Beverly Hills the next evening.
Earlier Monday, Weinstein, who recently had back surgery, was using a walker when he arrived in court in New York City, where he faces similar charges.
Jury selection in Manhattan Supreme Court for the highly publicized trial could take weeks as prospective jurors are closely vetted on their knowledge about Weinstein and the #MeToo movement, largely sparked by the accusations against him.
Some of the New York charges could land the former Hollywood producer in prison for the rest of his life.
He is charged with raping a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on another woman in 2006. Weinstein said he has never had nonconsensual sex with anyone and has denied the charges.
A felony predatory sexual assault charge against him carries a maximum life sentence. He also faces a first-degree criminal sexual act charge, first-degree rape count and a third-degree rape charge.
"Weinstein is a serial predator who sexually abused women for decades, taking advantage of his power and connections to systematically silence the women who could bring his crimes to light," the Silence Breakers, a group of 25 women who have accused Weinstein of misconduct, said in a Twitter post last week.
The group, which includes actresses Rose McGowan and Rosanna Arquette, said they hope Weinstein will face "a public and professional reckoning for his actions."
Weinstein's attorneys said they want the trial to focus on the charges and not claims made by some 80 women about the producer's conduct.
"This is not trivial, and not as simple as 'activists' versus Weinstein, and the only issues that should be relevant beginning Monday are those involved with the criminal charges if due process still matters to [the media] and to the public at large," Weinstein legal spokesman Juda Engelmayer said.
"Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that he has never been in a nonconsensual physical relationship with anyone," Engelmayer said.
Join Geezgo for free. Use Geezgo's end-to-end encrypted Chat with your Closenets (friends, relatives, colleague etc) in personalized ways.>>