Harvey Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty to Los Angeles Charges
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Harvey Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty to Los Angeles County Rape Charges

Disgraced movie producer and convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in his Los Angeles County sexual assault case.

Weinstein is charged in Los Angeles County with four counts of forcible rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery by restraint, and one count of sexual penetration by use of force. He allegedly raped women at area hotels in incidents from 2004 to 2013.

Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for raping former actress Jessica Mann and sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in New York City. Dozens of women said he abused them, but these two claims are the only ones so far adjudicated in court. The M.O. across these dozens of accounts is that Weinstein used his considerable professional influence to coerce women in sexual misconduct up to and including rape.

His defense at the New York City trial presented Weinstein as a flawed but innocent man who cheated on his wife. Lawyer Donna Rotunno said that Mann and Haleyi told inconsistent stories, and turned against Weinstein after his reputation soured in October 2017 amid sexual assault allegations. She maintained Haleyi and Mann had consensual relationships with the defendant and used him for their careers.

Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon described Weinstein as a domineering figure in his industry: he was master of his universe, and the witnesses were merely ants. They didn’t get to complain when he stepped on them, she said. The women had nothing to gain by testifying, asking rhetorically why they’d put their families through this terrible experience if they weren’t compelled, she said. The prosecutor highlighted testimony from other alleged victims, whose cases aren’t being adjudicated.

[Screengrab of Weinstein at his extradition hearing in New York via CTV]

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