Hollywood mogul Weinstein pleads not guilty to new sex assault charge

US-ENTERTAINMENT-FILM-JUSTICE-WEINSTEIN

Harvey Weinstein on Monday (Jul 9) pleaded not guilty to sex crimes against a third woman, as prosecutors plough on with a case that the #MeToo movement hopes will end with the disgraced Hollywood mogul sent to prison. He looked ashen and appeared to have shed some weight from his hulking frame.

"Not guilty", the former producer replied when asked how he pleaded to the new charges, which include two counts of predatory sexual assault for allegedly forcing a woman into oral sex on July 10, 2006.

Weinstein's Lawyer Ben Brafman has said he expects his client to be "fully vindicated" and has dismissed the predator charge as "simply not justified".

Weinstein is closely associated with the Tribeca area of Lower Manhattan just blocks from where the proceedings are taken place, having run his company from there for many years.

Brafman said during the arraignment that he expects more charges.

Prosecutors contend Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on the woman in 2006. He then encouraged other survivors to speak out.

But Brafman argued that having to remain in NY would impose undue hardship on both himself and Weinstein if the latter was forced to rent an apartment in Manhattan. After the prosecutor argued for a change in Weinstein's bail conditions, the judge ruled to keep them the same. The judge at the time set bail at $1 million and allowed Weinstein to continue living at the estate and move between there and NY, site of his company, providing he surrender his passport and wear an ankle bracelet.

He surrendered his passport and wears an electronic monitoring device.

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said the 66-year-old is charged with "some of the most serious sexual offences" that exist under state law.

"Are you really willing to roll the dice and hope and pray that your client will be able to answer questions under oath not only about this alleged third victim, but about other alleged victims as well?"

Weinstein's lawyer Benjamin Brafman addressed reporters outside the courtroom after the hearing.

Weinstein's children also live with him at the property, Brafman said.

The new charges were added to the three charges Weinstein was already facing: Rape in the First and Third Degree and Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree.

The other, former actress Lucia Evans, says she was allegedly forced to perform a sex act at his office in 2004. They include: the film actor Rose McGowan, who said Weinstein raped her in 1997 in Utah; the Sopranos actor Annabella Sciorra, who said he raped her in her NY apartment in 1992; and the Norwegian actor Natassia Malthe, who said he attacked her in a London hotel room in 2008. Dozens of women have come forward in recent months to accuse the producer of assaulting or harassing them.

Reporting by The New York Times and New Yorker that brought down Weinstein and spawned the sexual harassment watershed won the Pulitzer Prize for public service, the most prestigious award in United States journalism.

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