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Harvey Weinstein to surrender, face criminal charges in N.Y. sexual assault case, sources say

Harvey Weinstein to surrender, face criminal charges in N.Y. sexual assault case, sources say
Harvey Weinstein has been accused by more than 80 women of misconduct. (Los Angeles Times)

Harvey Weinstein is expected to turn himself in to face sexual assault allegations in New York, in what would mark the first criminal charges against the disgraced former movie mogul, sources familiar with the case said Thursday.

The sources said the case involved — but might not be limited to — a once-aspiring actress who has alleged that Weinstein assaulted her during a meeting at his Miramax office in 2004. Lucia Evans told the New Yorker magazine last year that Weinstein said during a meeting that she'd "be great in 'Project Runway' " before allegedly forcing her to perform oral sex.

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Weinstein has been accused by more than 80 women of misconduct that includes sexual harassment and rape. Police in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, New York and London have conducted investigations into more than 20 allegations. The producer has denied any wrongdoing.

"Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that he has never engaged in nonconsensual sexual acts," his attorneys Blair Berk and Benjamin Brafman said in an earlier statement to The Times.

Prosecutors in New York and L.A. have been developing cases against Weinstein, but sources have said for weeks that New York authorities were closest to bringing charges. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were not clear on the scope of the case New York prosecutors plan to file.

The charges would mark a major milestone in the #MeToo movement, which has sparked numerous accusations of misconduct by powerful men in the entertainment and other industries — and numerous criminal investigations, but few actual criminal charges.

A spokesperson for Manhattan Dist. Atty. Cyrus Vance on Thursday declined to comment on the potential charges.

New York Police Department top brass have openly said in recent months that they would arrest Weinstein if he were in New York, citing the progress detectives made in investigating several sexual assault cases. Vance's office expanded the investigation to include whether Weinstein had committed fraud in payments he allegedly made to women to keep the allegations secret.

A source familiar with the investigation said New York prosecutors had used grand jury subpoenas to obtain a slew of documents — including emails, phone records and calendars from people who worked with Weinstein — dating to 2004.

According to the New Yorker story, Evans said that she met with Weinstein in one of his offices when she was a student at Middlebury College.

"He immediately was simultaneously flattering me and demeaning me and making me feel bad about myself," she told the magazine. Weinstein told her that she'd be perfect for "Project Runway" — the show, which Weinstein helped produce, premiered later in 2004 — but that she needed to lose weight. She also said he told her about two scripts, a horror movie and a teen love story.

"At that point, after that, is when he assaulted me," Evans said.

She said she had objected, but that Weinstein exposed his penis and pulled her head down toward it.

"I said, over and over, 'I don't want to do this, stop, don't,' " Evans told the New Yorker. "I tried to get away, but maybe I didn't try hard enough. I didn't want to kick him or fight him." In the end, she said, "he's a big guy. He overpowered me." She added: "I just sort of gave up. That's the most horrible part of it, and that's why he's been able to do this for so long to so many women: People give up, and then they feel like it's their fault."

Sources said that prosecutors in New York have built a second case against Weinstein, but that the identity of the alleged victims was unclear.

In L.A. County, Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey's team has been reviewing two investigations into Weinstein by Beverly Hills police, as well as three Los Angeles Police Department investigations — including an Italian actress' allegation of rape in 2013.

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According to law enforcement sources, detectives believe that case is promising for prosecution because the woman told her story to three people, including a priest, relatively soon after the alleged attack. LAPD detectives also have obtained bills showing that the woman was a guest at the Beverly Hills hotel where she claims Weinstein attacked her, the sources said. The case does have flaws, they added. Detectives found little physical evidence of an attack and have been unable to secure proof that Weinstein was at the hotel when the woman says the rape occurred.

Weinstein has been under increased law enforcement scrutiny since the New York Times published allegations of sexual assault and harassment last summer.

This week, according to sources who were not authorized to comment publicly, the U.S. attorney's office of the Southern District of New York also was investigating Weinstein, seeking to examine whether the mogul had lured or induced women to travel across state lines for purposes of committing sexual crimes.

UPDATES:

4:15 p.m.: This article was updated with more information on the alleged assault.

1:15 p.m.: This article was updated with more background on the case.

This article was originally published at 1 p.m.

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