Harvey Weinstein just plead not guilty to 11 sexual assault charges in California. (Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.Harvey Weinstein is back in California, but the convicted rapist won’t be spending much time in his old Hollywood haunts.On Wednesday, Weinstein pleaded not guilty to 11 sexual assault charges. The charges, which stem from alleged encounters with five women between 2004 and 2013, include four counts of forcible rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery by restraint, and one count of sexual penetration by use of force. If convicted on all counts, Weinstein could be facing a 140-year prison sentence.
“Anyone who abuses their power and influence to prey upon others will be brought to justice,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.Weinstein has already started his 23-year sentence in New York, where, in a blockbuster trial in 2020, Weinstein was convicted of raping an actress and forcibly performing oral sex on a production assistant. The case seemed to make a milestone in the #MeToo movement, which went viral after a pair of stories in the New York Times and New Yorker reported in 2017 that Weinstein had spent years sexually harassing women in the film industry. Alongside Bill Cosby’s conviction, the Weinstein case seemed to show that the United States was finally ready to take stories of sexual misconduct seriously. (Cosby has since had his conviction overturned and been released.)Weinstein, who’s always maintained his innocence, has filed an appeal in the New York case. His legal team has also said such a lengthy sentence effectively means that 69-year-old Weinstein will die in prison, since the disgraced movie mogul is in poor health and going blind in one eye, according to Weinstein’s team. On Wednesday, Weinstein appeared in court in a wheelchair and spoke only to say “thank you” to the judge, the Associated Press reported.“He absolutely, unequivocally and categorically denies the allegations in this indictment,” Mark Werksman, Weinstein’s lawyer, said, according to CNN. “They’re unprovable, unproven, uncredible, and unsubstantiated, and that will become clear as we litigate this case.”Weinstein is set to return to court next week. Under the terms of his extradition from New York, his trial must begin by November.