Harvey Weinstein, a highly influential donor to top Democrats and longtime supporter of the Clintons, turned himself in to police Friday morning to face the first criminal charges to be filed against him after months of sexual assault allegations from scores of women that destroyed his career and set off a national reckoning known as the #MeToo movement.
Weinsten had been a large donor to former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary and used his Hollywood connections to aid their political ambitions. He even forked over $10,000 to fund Bill’s defense team after being impeached for the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Critics have claimed the Clintons knew of Weinstein’s actions before women even started coming forward, and he was accused of colluding with the Clinton campaign against Democratic primary challenger Bernie Sanders in 2016.
Leaked email shows that Harvey Weinstein colluded with Clinton campaign manager @RobbyMook in an effort to "silence" Erica Garner's #BLM message with "Sandy Hook". Garner died of heart failure last week, aged 27. https://t.co/JW6cy9Ccgi
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 2, 2018
The film producer is facing criminal sex act and rape charges in a New York court, according to a law enforcement official who wasn’t authorized to discuss the case and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Weinstein, 66, stepped from a black SUV wearing a blazer and carrying books under his arm, and lumbered into a Manhattan police station before a crowd of news cameras. He didn’t respond to shouts of “Harvey!”
The official said Weinstein would be charged with committing a criminal sex act in a 2004 encounter with Lucia Evans, a then-aspiring actress who has said the Hollywood mogul forced her to perform oral sex on him in his office. She was among the first women to speak out about the producer.
The rape charge relates to a woman who has not spoken publicly or been identified, the official said.
Weinstein’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, declined to comment when first contacted about the charges late Thursday, but has previously said that Weinstein has consistently denied any allegations of “nonconsensual sex.”
Evans confirmed to The New Yorker that she was pressing charges.
“At a certain point, you have to think about the greater good of humanity, of womankind,” she told the magazine.
Evans told The New Yorker in a story published in October that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during a daytime meeting at his New York office in 2004, the summer before her senior year at Middlebury College.
“I said, over and over, ’I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,’” she told the magazine. “I tried to get away, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t want to kick him or fight him.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance had been under enormous public pressure to bring a criminal case against Weinstein. Some women’s groups, including the Hollywood activist group Time’s Up, accused the Democrat of being too deferential to Weinstein and too dismissive of his accusers.
A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case for weeks.
In March, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the extraordinary step of ordering the state’s attorney general to investigate whether Vance acted properly in 2015 when he decided not to prosecute Weinstein over a previous allegation of unwanted groping, made by an Italian model. That investigation is in its preliminary stages.
More than 75 women have accused Weinstein of wrongdoing around the globe. Several actresses and models accused him of criminal sexual assaults, but many of the encounters happened too long ago for any prosecution. Film actress Rose McGowan said Weinstein raped her in 1997 in Utah, “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra said he raped her in her New York apartment in 1992 and Norwegian actress Natassia Malthe said he attacked her in a London hotel room in 2008.
McGowan told the AP on Thursday that “the justice system has been something very elusive.”
“I hope in this case, it works. Because it’s all true. None of this was consensual,” she said.
The statute of limitations for rape and certain other sex crimes in New York was eliminated in 2006, but not for attacks that happened prior to 2001.
New York City police detectives said in early November that they were investigating allegations by another accuser, “Boardwalk Empire” actress Paz de la Huerta, who told police in October that Weinstein raped her twice in 2010. She is not one of the victims in the case on Friday; hers was still pending, officials said.
Authorities in California and London also are investigating assault allegations. Britain has no statute of limits on rape cases; some of the allegations under investigation there date to the 1980s.
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Harvey and his brother Bob Weinstein started his now-bankrupt company after leaving Miramax, the company they founded in 1979 and which became a powerhouse in ’90s indie film with hits like “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love.” The Weinstein Co. found success with Oscar winners “The Artist” and “The King’s Speech.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.