Weinstein pleads not guilty to rape as lawyer vows to fight on

Hollywood producer has pleaded not guilty to rape and criminal sex act charges after appearing before a New York Court.

    Weinstein pleads not guilty to rape as lawyer vows to fight on
    Harvey Weinstein stands inside Manhattan Criminal Court during his indictment in Manhattan in New York [Steven Hirsch/Reuters]

    Harvey Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to rape and criminal sex act charges after appearing in a New York Court, with his lawyer vowing to beat the case before it goes to trial.

    The 66-year-old had previously insisted via his lawyer that he never had non-consensual sex, a charge which could see him face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of either offence.

    After leaving a court in Manhattan, New York, on Tuesday, his lawyer, Ben Brafman, told reporters that the case was "imminently defensible" based on what they had learned about the evidence.

    "We are going to file a series of legal motions that will get us more information and may impact the process, and if we are successful there may not be a trial - and if there is a trial, we will proceed expeditiously and vigorously to try and clear Mr Weinstein's name."

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    "As terrible as the crime of rape is, it is equally reprehensible to be falsely accused," Brafman added.

    One alleged victim, who has not been identified publicly, told investigators that Mr Weinstein cornered her in a hotel room and raped her.

    'I don't want to do this'

    The other accuser, former actress Lucia Evans, has gone public with her account of how the former producer forced her to perform a sex act on him at his office in 2004.

    "I said, over and over, 'I don't want to do this, stop, don't,'" Evans told The New Yorker in a story published in October.

    The two women are among scores who have accused the Hollywood mogul of sexual misconduct ranging from rape to harassment.

    They include Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek and Gwyneth Paltrow.

    The outpouring saw people around the world come forward with cases of sexual mistreatment, leading to resignations and sackings of powerful men across industries.

    They include TV hosts Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, comedian Louis CK, Democratic Senator Al Franken, chef Mario Batali, casino magnate Steve Wynn and, most recently, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

    Women worldwide have also taken to social media, using the hashtag #MeToo to share their own stories of being sexually assaulted or harassed in the workplace.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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