Just hours after Harvey Weinstein’s criminal trial kicked off in New York, Los Angeles is jumping into the fray.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced Monday that her office has charged Weinstein with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another. The separate incidents allegedly took place over the course of two days in February 2013.
Weinstein allegedly raped the first woman on Feb. 18, 2013, after pushing his way into her hotel room, according to a press release by Lacey’s office. The next day, he allegedly sexually assaulted another woman in a hotel suite. He’s now facing felony counts of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force, and sexual battery by restraint.
“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” Lacey said in a statement. “I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them. It is my hope that all victims of sexual violence find strength and healing as they move forward.”
At a press conference Monday, Lacey said that each of the women had told at least one other about the alleged assaults in 2013. They both reported the assaults in 2017, the same year the New York Times and New Yorker helped trigger the #MeToo movement by publishing explosive reports about Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct toward women.
If Weinstein’s convicted in California, he could spend up to 28 years in state prison, per the release.
Weinstein is already facing deep legal jeopardy in New York, where he’s facing five sex crime charges. If convicted of “predatory sexual assault” in that state — meaning prosecutors prove he committed a serious sexual assault against at least two women — Weinstein could face life behind bars.
Weinstein has previously denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. Dozens of women have accused the former Hollywood power broker, 67, of sexual misconduct.
Lacey said that a total of eight women had reported that they’d been sexually assaulted by Weinstein in Los Angeles County. Because the statute of limitations had already expired on three of those alleged crimes, her office declined to press charges. However, police are still investigating the allegations made by the three remaining women.
“I want victims to know that just because we may lack sufficient evidence to charge their assailant, it does not mean that a crime did not occur,” Lacey said. “To those victims, I want you to know we see you, we hear you, and we believe you.”
Cover: Harvey Weinstein leaves court on January 6, 2020 in New York City. Weinstein, a movie producer whose alleged sexual misconduct helped spark the #MeToo movement, pleaded not-guilty on five counts of rape and sexual assault against two unnamed women and faces a possible life sentence in prison. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)