Breaking: Harvey Weinstein indicted on charges of rape and a criminal sexual act

Breaking: Harvey Weinstein indicted on charges of rape and a criminal sexual act

Since last October, Harvey Weinstein has been accused by over 80 women of sexual misconduct. As the victims shared their stories, more and more women felt compelled to come forward, sparking national outrage about sexual abuse. The waves of allegations created the #MeToo movement, which aims to end sexual harassment and assault. As a result, several powerful Hollywood figures have faced a reckoning.

Many of Harvey Weinstein's alleged crimes took place several years ago, falling outside the statue of limitations. However, last Friday, eight months after the initial allegations, he was finally arrested. The 66-year-old disgraced film executive was arraigned on charges of first and third-degree rape in one case and first-degree criminal sexual act in another.

On Wednesday morning, a Manhattan grand jury indicted Weinstein on charges of rape and a criminal sexual act in connection with allegations by two women. If convicted, the maximum charges carry a penalty of between five and 25 years in prison.

One of Weinstein's accusers, Rose McGowan, issued a statement of support to the two women: "Lucia Evans and Anonymous Survivor, I bow to your strength and resolve. This will be a long, hard fight. Stay strong. We are all with you."

Weinstein's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, issued a statement, saying this outcome was "inevitable due to the unfair political pressure being placed on [District Attorney] Cy Vance to secure a conviction of Mr. Weinstein." Brafman said Weinstein plans to plead not guilty and they will "vigorously defend against these unsupported allegations that he strongly denies. We will soon formally move to dismiss the indictment and if this case actually proceeds to trial, we expect Mr. Weinstein to be acquitted."

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance also issued a statement, saying, "This indictment brings the defendant another step closer to accountability for the crimes of violence with which he is now charged... The defendant’s recent assault on the integrity of the survivors and the legal process is predictable. We are confident that when the jury hears the evidence, it will reject these attacks out of hand."

One accuser, Linda Evans, alleges that Weinstein lured her to his hotel room in 2004, and forced her to perform oral sex. The other accuser, who has not been publicly identified, says Weinstein raped her at a hotel in 2013.

The indictment came two hours past the deadline for Weinstein to testify in front of the grand jury. Brafman announced his client would not do this, because there was not enough time to prepare and he lacked access to critical information. His request to ask for more time was denied.

Authorities in Los Angeles and London are currently investigating other accusations against Weinstein. However, as of now, these criminal charges from New York are the only ones on the books.

Weinstein has continuously denied all allegations of sexual misconduct. He is currently out on $1 million bail, and has surrendered his passport. His next court date is July 30.