Prominent Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein turned himself into New York police on Friday on rape and sex abuse charges, nearly eight months after reports of sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against him.
He was charged with two counts of rape and one count of a criminal sexual act. Weinstein’s alleged actions have been condemned by several film entities.
However, he was released after three hours on $1m bail, according to the Associated Press. He also surrendered his passport and was ordered to wear a monitoring device around his ankle. He showed up at the station carrying three books under his arm, as he was escorted inside by police officers as scores of journalists crowded to capture photographs.
Agence France Presse reported that he is facing a ban on traveling beyond New York and Connecticut. His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said he would fight to get the charges dismissed. Weinstein is also being investigated by police in Los Angeles and London on similar charges.
Brafman said Weinstein “did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood, and to the extent that there is bad behaviour in that industry, that is not what this is about.” He has until Wednesday to decide whether to testify before a grand jury.
Weinstein has repeatedly denied accusations of non-consensual sex.
The wave of assault accusations against Weinstein triggered a global #MeToo movement with people working in several industries coming forward with stories of sexual harassment, assault, and rape against well-known figures.
Over 75 women around the globe—including actors Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan, and Ashley Judd—have accused Weinstein of misconduct ranging from sexual harassment to rape. Many of the cases have passed the statute of limitations and can no longer be prosecuted, according to several US media outlets.
The first accusations against Weinstein were reported on 5 October last year by the New York Times and the New Yorker. The reports about Weinstein’s misconduct helped give rise to the #MeToo movement of survivors publicly coming forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault in business, politics, media, sports, and entertainment.
Powerful players in the entertainment industry distanced themselves from the disgraced producer after the accusations became public. The board of his production company, The Weinstein Co, fired him and later filed for bankruptcy in March.
After the scandal surfaced, film festivals have been providing hotlines for people who encounter or who want to report any sexual conduct.
Weinstein’s arrest came on the same day, Friday, that actor Morgan Freeman issued a statement apologising to those who felt “uncomfortable or disrespected” by his behaviour.
Freeman’s statement came hours after US news network CNN reported that eight women accused the actor of sexual harassment and other troubling behaviour on set and in other professional settings.
“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy,” the actor said. “I apologise to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected—that was never my intent.”