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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to rape, sex assault charges

The onetime Tinseltown powerbroker remains free

Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein and his attorney Benjamin Brafman leave the court after his hearing on two counts of rape in State Supreme Court in New York. Jason Szenes / EPA 
Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein and his attorney Benjamin Brafman leave the court after his hearing on two counts of rape in State Supreme Court in New York. Jason Szenes / EPA 

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein on Tuesday pleaded not guilty in a New York courtroom to rape and sexual assault charges related to crimes allegedly committed against two women.

The 66-year-old producer, whose career imploded in a blaze of accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse from dozens of women that triggered the global #MeToo movement, could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Mr Weinstein, who appeared in court in a dark blazer, jeans and a tie, uttered only a few words at the arraignment hearing.

"Not guilty," he said in a barely audible voice when asked for his plea. He also replied "Yes" several times as the judge reiterated the conditions of his monitored release.

Mr Weinstein, the onetime Tinseltown powerbroker whose films earned dozens of Oscars, was charged with rape and another sex crime in New York late last month, nearly eight months after the first public allegations against him surfaced.

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The twice-married father of five has been indicted for allegedly forcing a woman to perform oral sex on him in 2004, and for allegedly raping another at a Manhattan hotel in 2013.

But since October, nearly 100 women have said they were harassed or sexually abused by Weinstein over a period of more than two decades.

Salma Hayek, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie are among more than two dozen actresses who say they were sexually harassed by the producer. A few, including Asia Argento and Rose McGowan, say they were raped.

The #MeToo movement has seen people around the world come forward with cases of sexual mistreatment, leading to the downfall of powerful men across industries, including Oscar winner Kevin Spacey.

Mr Weinstein has steadfastly denied all accusations of nonconsensual sex.

He has reportedly spent months in treatment for sex addiction. His fashion designer wife, Georgina Chapman, has left him.

Benjamin Brafman, Weinstein's lawyer and one of America's most celebrated criminal defense attorneys, did most of the talking for the mogul at his hearing on Tuesday.

Mr Brafman says the rape complaint came from a woman who had a 10-year affair with Mr Weinstein, but the information was not confirmed.

The accusation of forced oral sex comes from Lucia Evans, a marketing consultant who, in 2004, was an aspiring actress. She told her story in October to The New Yorker.

Ms Evans says Mr Weinstein spoke to her of a possible role as a model on television reality show "Project Runway," before forcing her into oral sex.

Mr Weinstein remains free, having posted $1 million (Dh3.6 millio) bail. He is wearing a GPS monitoring device, and his travel is restricted to the states of New York and Connecticut.