New York: Harvey Weinstein is now facing rape and sexual assault charges against a total of three women, New York prosecutors announced today as they build a high-stakes legal battle against the disgraced Hollywood mogul.
The 66-year-old's career imploded last October in a blaze of accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse from dozens of women that triggered a major reckoning about harassment in the workplace and the global #MeToo movement.
Currently out on a USD 1 million bail, the father of five in June pleaded not guilty for allegedly raping one woman at a Manhattan hotel in 2013 and forcing another to perform oral sex on him in 2004.
Today, prosecutors announced that a New York grand jury had returned an additional count of criminal sexual act in the first degree, and two counts of predatory sexual assault against Weinstein for allegedly forcing a third woman into oral sex on July 10, 2006.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said Weinstein had now been indicted "on some of the most serious sexual offenses" under New York penal law.
"This indictment is the result of the extraordinary courage exhibited by the survivors," he added, urging others who may have experienced "predatory abuse" at the hands of Weinstein to also come forward. The new charges bring to six the number of counts against Weinstein. The latest charges are punishable by a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment, Vance added.
Weinstein has steadfastly denied all accusations of nonconsensual sex. His lawyer, celebrated criminal defense attorney Ben Brafman, was not immediately reachable for comment.
The onetime Tinseltown powerbroker whose films earned dozens of Oscars, was charged with rape and another sex crime in May, nearly eight months after the first public allegations against him surfaced.
None of the three women have been named, but according to Brafman, the 2013 rape complaint comes from a woman who had a 10-year affair with Weinstein.
Former actress Lucia Evans, who told The New Yorker that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex, is thought to be the woman involved in the 2004 case.