By Tea Kvetenadze
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Movie producer Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges of sexually assaulting a woman in 2006, the third criminal sex assault case brought against him, and his attorney said he expects further charges to follow.
More than 70 women, mostly young actresses and other women employed in the movie business, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including rape, in a series of incidents dating back decades.
The accusations against Weinstein sparked the #MeToo movement that has seen hundreds of women publicly accuse powerful men in business, politics and entertainment of sexual harassment and abuse, lifting a shroud that had long shielded such behavior.
Dressed in a dark suit and tie on Monday, the 66-year-old co-founder of the Miramax film studio was brought handcuffed into a Manhattan courtroom to face the latest charges.
New York state Supreme Court Justice James Burke rejected prosecutors’ request to order house arrest for Weinstein, allowing him to remain free on the $1 million bail that has been in effect since he pleaded not guilty in June to charges he assaulted two other women, one in 2004 and one in 2013.
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 walked to the courthouse with a copy of “A Talent for Trouble,” the 1997 biography of “Ben-Hur” film director William Wyler, according to CNN.
“Mr. Weinstein is not a predator, he is not a rapist and I believe when this case is over we will ultimately see him to be exonerated,” defense attorney Benjamin Brafman told journalists after Monday’s hearing.
Brafman said that prosecutors may file additional charges against Weinstein.
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said the number of Weinstein accusers “shows the breadth of the criminality here.”
Prosecutors contend Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on the woman in 2006. The latest charges carry a maximum life sentence.
Earlier charges included two counts of rape and one count of criminal sexual act. Weinstein was charged after a months-long investigation by the New York Police Department.
After Weinstein was accused, his eponymous company Weinstein Co fired him and filed for bankruptcy, and he was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Through his company and Miramax, Weinstein won plaudits and awards for movies including “Shakespeare in Love,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” “The Crying Game” and “The King’s Speech.”
(Reporting By Tea Kvetenadze; Editing by Scott Malone, Jeffrey Benkoe and Jonathan Oatis)