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Harvey Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty to Sexual Assault

Disgraced U.S. movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has pleaded not guilty in New York City to sexual assault charges stemming from a 2006 incident, the third such case against him.



More than 70 women have accused Weinstein, 66, of sexual misconduct, ranging from sexual harassment to rape. According to CNN, Weinstein had already pleaded not guilty to two rape charges and one criminal sex act charge, before he pleaded not guilty on Monday to an additional criminal sex act and two charges of predatory sexual assault.



"A Manhattan grand jury has now indicted Harvey Weinstein on some of the most serious sexual offenses that exist under New York's penal law," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. said in a statement. "This indictment is the result of the extraordinary courage exhibited by the survivors who have come forward."



Allegations against Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax and The Weinstein Company, first surfaced last year. Actresses Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and Angelina Jolie were among the early accusers of sexual misconduct against Weinstein — regarding alleged incidents dating from 1980 to 2015, CNN reported.



The allegations sparked the global #MeToo movement that encouraged women to speak out against sexual harassment in the workplace. Following the accusations, Weinstein was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was fired from The Weinstein Company, which is being sold.



Weinstein, for his part, is free on bail as he fights the accusations.



Weinstein's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement his client expected to be exonerated.



"Mr. Weinstein maintains that all of these allegations are false, and he expects to be fully vindicated," Brafman said. "Furthermore, to charge Mr. Weinstein as a predator when the interactions were each consensual is simply not justified."



In the wake of the #MeToo movement, a legal defense fund known as Time's Up was established to provide financial and legal backing toward sexual assault cases like the ones against Weinstein.



In March, the group called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to launch an investigation into Vance's office's handling of sexual assault allegations against Weinstein by actress Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in 2015. After reporting the alleged assault to the New York Police Department's Special Victims Division, Battilana Gutierrez was encouraged by the NYPD to meet again with Weinstein, but this time wearing a recording device.



The recording was published by The New Yorker in October 2017, where Weinstein allegedly can be heard admitting to groping Battilana Gutierrez. Following the second meeting, the district attorney's office declined to file charges.



Weinstein faces a potential life sentence in prison if found guilty of predatory sexual assault.

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