Scorned Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was charged with rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles Monday, the same day his sex crimes trial in New York got underway.
L.A. County prosecutors charged the disgraced movie mogul with felony counts of rape, forced oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint. The charges stem from alleged attacks in separate incidents that took place over a two-day period in 2013, authorities said.
“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey in a statement.
“I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them. It is my hope that all victims of sexual violence find strength and healing as they move forward," Lacey said.
Weinstein allegedly raped a woman on Feb. 18, 2013, after pushing his way into her hotel room, prosecutors said. The next night, he allegedly sexually assaulted another woman in a hotel suite.
The charges resulted from a task force established by Lacey in 2017 to review accusations of sexual abuse against prominent members of the entertainment industry.
The new criminal counts were announced as Weinstein, leaning on a walker, was escorted into New York state Supreme Court to begin his trial on rape and predatory sexual assault charges. He has pleaded not guilty and has denied assaulting anyone.
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of serial harassment and predatory behavior over a period of decades. Among well-known actresses who have complained publicly about his unwanted sexual advances are Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow and Annabella Sciorra. The latter is expected to testify at Weinstein's New York trial.
Outside the courtroom in New York Monday, accusers Rosanna Arquette and Rose McGowan were joined by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred as they spoke to reporters. "Times up on sexual harassment in all workplaces," Arquette said.