Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to sex assault charges

Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein appeared in court in NY on Monday, to plead not guilty to charges including two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The former producer of box office hits such as "Shakespeare in Love" and "The Iron Lady" faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of predatory sexual assault charges at trial. "This indictment is the result of the extraordinary courage exhibited by the survivors who have come forward".

Prosecutors have not named Weinstein's accusers. But the defense argued against changing his bail conditions and later announced the court had agreed.

Weinstein was subdued throughout the hearing, pleading "not guilty" and responding "yes, sir" when the judge told him to stay away from his accusers.

He surrendered his passport and wears an electronic monitoring device.

The Oscar-winning producer, whose namesake company is also due to conclude its bankruptcy sale this week, is next scheduled to appear in court on September 12.

The accusations gave rise to the #MeToo movement in which hundreds of women publicly accused powerful men in business, politics and entertainment of sexual harassment and abuse, lifting a shroud that had long shielded such behaviour.

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said the 66-year-old Weinstein is charged with "some of the most serious sexual offenses" that exist under state law.

Weinstein's Lawyer Ben Brafman has said he expects his client to be "fully vindicated" and has dismissed the predator charge as "simply not justified".

"Are you really willing to have your client face the jury?"

Weinstein has steadfastly denied all accusations of nonconsensual sex.

"His objective is to clear his name, get help with the problems he has faced and hopefully go back to making movies", said Brafman. "If we allow Pulitzer-driven reporters to decide this case then it could be hopeless". Brafman later said he'd found it.

Film actress Rose McGowan, who alleged Weinstein raped her in 1997 in Utah.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they consent to being identified publicly. In addition to the assault claim that brought him to court Monday, Weinstein is accused of raping an unidentified woman in a hotel room in 2013 and forcing a former actress, Lucia Evans, to perform oral sex at his office in 2004. They include film actress Rose McGowan, who said Mr Weinstein raped her in 1997 in Utah; Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, who said he raped her in her NY apartment in 1992; and the Norwegian actress Natassia Malthe, who said he attacked her in a London hotel room in 2008.

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