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Harvey Weinstein charged with rape following New York arrest

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Media captionAs Harvey Weinstein turns himself in, an accuser, Rose McGowan, reacts

Former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has been charged in New York with rape and several counts of sexual abuse stemming from two separate accusers.

Mr Weinstein turned himself in to police in the city earlier in the day.

Dozens of women have made allegations against the 66 year old, including rape and sexual assault, and giving rise to the #MeToo movement.

Mr Weinstein has denied committing any non-consensual sex acts and his lawyer said he would plead not guilty.

He was released on a $1m bail bond and ordered to wear an electronic tag.

A statement from the New York Police Department said Mr Weinstein “was arrested, processed and charged with rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two separate women”.

He arrived at the police station in lower Manhattan at 07:30 (12:30 BST) on Friday, carrying three books. After having his mugshot and fingerprints taken, he was led out in handcuffs and taken to court.

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Reuters

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Weinstein was led out of the police station in handcuffs

During a brief court appearance, during which Mr Weinstein did not speak, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said the former mogul had “used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually”.

Mr Weinstein’s lawyer Ben Brafman told reporters outside the court that the disgraced mogul would enter a not guilty plea.

“We intend to move very quickly to dismiss these charges,” Mr Brafman said. “We believe that they are constitutionally flawed. We believe that they are not factually supported by the evidence.”

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Agaton Strom

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Lucia Evans is thought to be one of the accusers who prompted Friday’s charges

In its statement, the New York Police Department thanked “these brave survivors for their courage to come forward and seek justice”.

The identity of one of the women whose accusations prompted the charges was confirmed by her lawyer on Friday. Lucia Evans, a former actress, had already publicly accused Mr Weinstein of forcing her into oral sex in 2004.

“This is an emotional moment,” her lawyer Carrie Golberg said in a statement. “Today is big. But sexual violence is still happening. A victim or offender’s fame should not matter. These cases must be prosecuted.”

These are the first criminal charges against Mr Weinstein, who already faces a raft of civil lawsuits.

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Media caption“It’s a concrete slap in the face of abuse of power,” says actor Rose McGowan on Harvey Weinstein being charged.

The actress Rose McGowan, who accused Mr Weinstein of rape, told the BBC it had been an “amazing day for his survivors”.

“It’s a very significant moment, it’s a concrete slap in the face of abuse of power,” she said. “It’s just the beginning of that process and if we can see this through to the end, I hope we emerge victorious.”

The allegations against the disgraced mogul triggered the #MeToo movement, which sought to demonstrate and draw attention to the widespread prevalence of sexual abuse and harassment.

The perp walk

Nada Tawfik, North America reporter, in New York

It was a carefully choreographed performance. As Harvey Weinstein turned himself in to police, the world’s media got an unobstructed view of the “perp walk”.

At the police station in Tribeca, not far from where he ran his media empire, there is no underground passageway or back door. He could not avoid the spotlight that up until months ago had always been glowing and reverential.

The disgraced Hollywood producer emerged from the back of his black SUV and ignored the questions shouted by reporters. Under his arm were three books, one of which was a biography of the controversial producer and director Elia Kazan, who was shunned by Hollywood after he outed several colleagues as communists during the McCarthy era.

But Kazan’s actions did not ultimately cost him his career. Many wonder, does Harvey Weinstein still believe in a comeback even after dozens of women have accused him of sexual assault, and after the powerful rise of the #MeToo movement?

Who else has accused Mr Weinstein?

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Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cara Delevingne have all spoken out

The Hollywood mogul has faced accusations of sexual harassment and assault from dozens of women. Some have alleged rape. Actresses Kate Beckinsale, Lysette Anthony and Gwyneth Paltrow are among the high-profile figures to have spoken out.

Actress Ashley Judd is suing the Hollywood producer, claiming he damaged her career after she rejected his sexual advances.

One of the cases was in New York, where Italian model Ambra Battilana accused Mr Weinstein of groping her in 2015. Investigators decided not to charge him even though there was an audiotape of Mr Weinstein accepting he had touched Ms Battilana’s breasts and pledging not to do so again.

  • Who has accused Weinstein of what?

Prosecutors in Los Angeles are reviewing several cases involving accusations against Mr Weinstein after police investigations, and London’s Metropolitan Police are also assessing a sexual abuse allegation against him.

Mr Weinstein was fired last year from his production firm, the Weinstein Company, which later filed for bankruptcy. He has been condemned by top industry figures, and the organisation behind the Oscars expelled him from its membership.

The Weinstein case and #MeToo

The #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment and abuse swept through Hollywood last autumn in the wake of the accusations against Mr Weinstein.

The movement was prompted by an invitation from actress Alyssa Milano on Twitter, asking those who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to reply “Me Too”. She received half a million responses in 24 hours.

  • What has #MeToo actually changed?

“Me Too” began as an idea back in 2006, with rights activist Tarana Burke, who used it as the name for a group to help those who had been sexually harassed and assaulted.

In January, more than 300 actresses, writers and directors launched the Time’s Up project, raising $21m in just a month to fund legal assistance for people who suffer harassment, abuse or assault at work.

A number of high-profile figures in entertainment have been accused since the Weinstein story. On Thursday US film star Morgan Freeman apologised following allegations of sexual misconduct.

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