Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to rape charge in New York court

Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to rape charge in New York court

When Harvey Weinstein was first accused of sexual misconduct in October last year, the film producer seemed to be in a lot of trouble. Over the subsequent months, more and more people from the movie mogul's past came forward to recount horrible encounters with him over the years, from sexual harassment to assault.

The 66-year-old has now been accused by over 80 women, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Beckinsale, Rose McGowan, Salma Hayek, Cara Delevingne, Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman, and Heather Graham. In the months that followed we saw the rise of the #MeToo movement, in which women shared their stories of sexual misconduct, and #TimesUp - which sought to turn this outcry into change.

Several months after the story emerged, Harvey Weinstein made his way to the New York Police Department's first precinct, where he was finally arrested.

The photo, in which he was escorted out of the courtroom by female detective Keri Thompson, went viral after it was shared by New York Times journalist Jodi Kantor - who co-wrote the initial expose on Weinstein in October.

Now, it appears that Weinstein will not be accepting the charges set officially set against him, but instead plead not guilty to all rape and criminal sex act charges.

One accuser, Lucia Evans, alleges that he forced her to perform oral sex in his office in 2004. Another accuser, who chose to remain anonymous, alleges that he raped her in a hotel room. There are currently multiple investigations into other accusations ongoing, from the US to London, so it's likely that he will later be charged with other crimes.

Weinstein's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has previously called the allegations "constitutionally flawed and not factually supported by evidence," and told the assembled press that "we believe that by the end of this process he will be exonerated".

When asked how his client was doing, he said "as well as can be expected when you are accused of crimes you vehemently deny committing," adding that the producer "has always maintained that any sexual activity was consensual".

"Many allegations are long overdue, having been made about events that are alleged to have occurred many years ago, and they were not reported to the police at the time these events occurred.

"I anticipate that the women who made these allegations, when subjected to cross-examination – in the event that we even get that far – that the charges will not be believed by the 12 people, assuming we get 12 fair people who are not consumed by the movement that seems to have overtaken this case."

One journalist asked him what he had to say about "the dozens of women who say there's a pattern of misconduct against these women by Mr Weinstein," to which the lawyer had a bizarre response. Brafman told journalists:

"Let me say this without defending behaviour. My job is to defend something that is criminal behaviour. Bad behaviour – Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood and to the extent that there is bad behaviour in that industry, that is not what this is about.

"Bad behaviour is not on trial in this case, it’s only if you intentionally committed a criminal act and Mr. Weinstein vigorously denies that."

Considering the amount of witnesses and accusers that have come out against Weinstein over the last few months, it's a little surprising to see him take the 'not guilty' route. We'll see how it all unfolds once he goes to trial.