When he’s not being heckled and chased out of Arizona restaurants by angry patrons disgusted by his presence and frustrated by the two-tiered US “justice” system,, Harvey Weinstein has been content to lay low, somewhat out of the media spotlight for the past few months since an avalanche of accusations and corresponding media coverage first hit last October.
But on Wednesday night a new flood of reporting thrust the disgraced movie mogul back in the spotlight as NBC revealed that a state grand jury is convening in Manhattan in connection with the multiple sex abuse allegations which originated in New York, according to sources familiar with the case. This as simultaneously federal prosecutors have opened their own sex crimes case.
WNBC New York reports witnesses are being called and testimony is underway:
A grand jury in New York has been convened and witnesses are being called in connection with sex abuse allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, several sources familiar with the matter tell NBC News.
The sources say that a state grand jury in Manhattan will hear evidence in the Weinstein case which is being presented with witness testimony and other evidence.
Since the New York Times first published explosive allegations of sexual assault based on interviews with multiple of his celebrity female victims, more than 60 women have accused the 65-year old movie mogul of sexual misconduct, though it remains unclear how many have gone to the police. Since then Weinstein has been dropped by his own studio, Miramax, which he co-founded and is now facing ongoing criminal investigations in multiple US jurisdictions as well as in London and France.
In the meantime even close associates and co-producers on Weinstein’s multiple blockbuster productions over the years have lately come forward to say “everybody fucking knew” what’s been described as “certain pattern of overly-aggressive behavior that was rather dreadful.” Celebrities including Rose McGowen, Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek have accused Weinstein of various improprieties, from unwanted advances to flat out rape.
— CNN (@CNN) October 10, 2017
Though there’s been no indictment yet, a spokesperson for the Manhattan D.A.’s office acknowledged to NBC that the case is “an advanced stage.” Weinstein’s team of attorneys — no doubt the best that his net worth of about $150 million can buy — have denied any claim of non-consensual sex.
But as NBC reports further, “The NYPD for months has been calling for Weinstein’s arrest, saying they had enough evidence to charge him in the alleged sexual abuse of Paz de la Huerta and Lucia Evans” — the likely subjects of the New York state grand jury proceedings.
And as The Hill explains, though two New York Police officials publicly stated Wednesday the NYPD is ready to arrest the former Hollywood producer, it is “just waiting for approval from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose office has been criticized for not previously charging Weinstein after allegations were brought against him in 2015.”
Huerta is the “Boardwalk Empire” actress who told CBS News in a November interview she was first raped in October 2010 after Weinstein gave her a ride home from a party – after which the Hollywood mogul insisted on having a drink in her apartment when he forced himself on her. She said he raped her again in December 2010 after coming to her apartment. She had been drinking and was not in a condition to give consent, the actress said in the interview.
Lucia Evans, then a college student and aspiring actress, alleged that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him inside his Tribeca office in 2004 — one of the instances which has long been known to be playing a key role in the NYPD’s investigation.
Crucially, New York State has no statute of limitations on rape and criminal sexual acts — its legal term for forced oral or anal intercourse. Rape in the first degree carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison.
And according to a new WSJ report, federal investigators have simultaneously initiated a criminal probe into whether Weinstein “lured or induced any women to travel across state lines for the purpose of committing a sex crime,” as part of their inquiry. The WSJ reports further that the federal probe “comes amid frustration among some law-enforcement officials that local prosecutors haven’t brought charges.”
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Meanwhile, actress Gwyneth Paltrow has the same day that news of state and federal proceedings hit headlines revealed new stunning details of an altercation between her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt and Harvey Weinstein after Paltrow told Pitt she was sexually harassed by the powerful Miramax co-founder in the 1990’s.
“We had one instance in a hotel room where he [Weinstein] made a pass at me,” Paltrow told Stern. “It was out of the blue and I’ll tell you, I had been having the most incredible experience at Miramax,” and said further she was “blind-sided” by the incident. “I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified,” she said of the encounter.
She shared the details during an interview on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show, revealing that as she and Pitt attended an opening night Broadway show of Hamlet in 1995, Pitt threw Weinstein against a wall and said: ‘If you ever make her feel uncomfortable again, I’ll kill you.’ Or something like that.”
— IndieWire (@IndieWire) May 23, 2018
“It was like the equivalent of throwing [Weinstein] against the wall, you know, energetically,” Paltrow explained of Pitt’s intervention. “It was so fantastic,” she said. “What he did was he leveraged his fame and power to protect me at a time when I didn’t have fame or power yet.” And added, “He’s the best.”
Paltrow and Pitt dated from 1994 to 1997, and were briefly engaged, after he was already an established star and as she was still making a name for herself as a young actress.
Though 66-year old Weinstein has maintained his innocence amidst the flood sexual assault accusations, he did issue a lengthy apology following the initial New York Times report. The question now remains whether the formal state or federal criminal probes will result in indictments, but it could still be years before Weinstein actually sees the inside of a prison cell.