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Movie Mogul Arraigned on Charges of Sexual Abuse

NEW YORK, May 28 2018 (IPS) - When Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein arrived for his arraignment on charges of sexual abuse, there were hordes of photographers and reporters waiting for him outside the New York Supreme Court.  

But this time the scenario was different for a celebrity movie producer who was surrendering to authorities after scores of women, including several A-list actresses and fashion models, accused him of sexual misconduct, including first and second degree rape.

Benjamin Brafman, one of the best known lawyers in town, who was defending Weinstein, said in a statement to the media on Friday: “Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that he has never engaged in non-consensual sexual behavior with anyone. Nothing about today’s proceedings changes Mr. Weinstein’s position. He has entered a plea of not guilty and fully expects to be exonerated.”

The arraignment came about seven months after both the New Yorker and the New York Times published damning investigative reports detailing some of Weinstein’s sexual encounters in hotel rooms and Hollywood offices. Weinstein has vehemently denied the charges and said all his sexual encounters were “consensual”.

The charges followed a joint investigation by the police and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. The allegations became a driving force in the #MeToo movement  against sexual harassment, which also triggered a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual misconduct at the United Nations.

At the hearing, Weinstein had to surrender his passport and was released on a $1 million bail. He was barred from travelling beyond New York and Connecticut and his movements will be monitored electronically.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, Brafman said: “Under the circumstances, he’s holding up reasonably well. No one can be happy to be in the position that he is in.”

“As terrible a crime as rape is, it is equally reprehensible to be falsely accused of rape, and since Mr. Weinstein has denied these allegations, that’s where we are,” he added.

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