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

The hearing in Manhattan came after a grand jury indicted the man behind films such as Shakespeare in Love and The English Patient, on charges involving two women.

One alleged victim, who has not been identified publicly, told investigators that Mr Weinstein cornered her in a hotel room and raped her. The other accuser, former actress Lucia Evans, has gone public with her account of ho the movie mogul forced her to perform a sex act on him at his office in 2004. 

The two women are among scores who have accused the 66-year-old of sexual misconduct ranging from rape to harassment. Mr Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex and his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has sought to challenge the credibility of his alleged victims.

Mr Brafman called the rape allegation "absurd", saying that the accuser and Weinstein had a decade-long, consensual sexual relationship that continued after the alleged 2013 attack.

The Associated Press said that a Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr has said it was predictable that Mr Weinstein's camp would attack the integrity of the women and of the legal system. 

Mr Vance, a Democrat, came under public pressure from women's groups to prosecute Mr Weinstein after declining to do so in 2015, when an Italian model went to police to say he had groped her during a meeting.

Police set up a sting in which the woman recorded herself confronting Weinstein and him apologising for his conduct. But Mr Vance decided there was not enough evidence to bring charges.

Mr Weinstein was charged last month, seven months after allegations against him from various women were first published in the media. The rape charge carries a penalty of up to 25 years.

The initial allegations last October, led to an outpouring of accusations of sexual assault and harassment, not only against Mr Weinstein, but numerous other high-profile figures in the world of business, the arts and the media. Many were fired as a result.

The flood helped trigger the #MeToo movement where women, and men, shared stories of sexual harassment and assault on social media. 

After the accusations were first levelled at Mr Weinstein - who is also the subject of investigations by police in London and Los Angeles - went to Arizona for sex addiction therapy.

Earlier this year, the board of the company he help establish, The Weinstein Co, fired him, before filing for bankruptcy in March. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also expelled him.

This article originally appeared on The Independent and has been republished with permission.



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