New York, July 10 (IANS) Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was allowed to remain free on bail after pleading not guilty to new criminal charges that he sexually assaulted a third woman and had committed a pattern of sex crimes.
Weinstein, who wore a dark suit and handcuffs as he was escorted into a Manhattan courtroom on Monday, has been free on a $1 million bail since May.
Although prosecutors argued in court that Weinstein should be placed under house arrest because he faces possible life imprisonment if convicted. However, Judge James Burke rejected that call, reports latimes.com.
Weinstein was initially accused of raping a woman twice in a hotel here in 2013 and forcing an aspiring actress to give him oral sex in 2004 at his office, charges to which he also pleaded not guilty.
The new indictment, which was handed up by a grand jury last week, charges Weinstein with one count of a criminal sexual act in the first degree, for allegedly performing forced oral sex on a third woman in July 2006 at his Manhattan apartment. It also charges him with two counts of felony predatory sexual assault.
One of those counts involves the woman in the 2006 allegations, and the other involves the woman he was charged with raping in 2013.
Joan Illuzzi, the lead prosecutor, told the court those felony predator sexual assault charges changed the stakes in the case because they carry a potential life sentence and that Weinstein, a man of considerable wealth, had recently sold his home in Connecticut.
Benjamin Brafman, Weinstein’s attorney, rebuffed that, noting that the original charges could have meant 25 years behind bars and that the producer can stay in the Connecticut home through next year. The judge agreed with Brafman.
Outside the courtroom, Brafman said he was very pleased that the court did not change the existing bail conditions, latimes.com reported.
He said that Weinstein has “scrupulously abided by” the terms of his release.
The attorney said his client would be exonerated and it was “ludicrous” to suggest he engaged in forcible sex acts.
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of misconduct, including sexual harassment and rape. Police in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, New York and London have conducted investigations into more than 20 allegations.
A jury continues to hear from witnesses about sex crime allegations and the financial role Weinstein’s business played in his alleged behaviour.