Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty in a courtroom in Los Angeles on Wednesday to all 11 charges of rape and sexual assault against five women in California hotel rooms.
The convicted rapist who is already serving 23 years has been brought back to the city where he once presided over massive, industry-shaking film deals to face more charges that could result in an additional 140 years in prison.
“The not guilty plea is entered,” said Judge Sergio Tapia, after an attorney spoke on behalf of Weinstein, who was present in the courtroom in a wheelchair and wearing a brown jumpsuit.
Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who has been serving a 23-year prison sentence for sexual assault in New York since last year, was on his way to Los Angeles on Tuesday for a second trial in which he will face new charges.
The once all-powerful Hollywood producer — whose downfall was seen as a major victory for the #MeToo movement — is accused in Los Angeles of rape and sexual assault of five women, which could land him in prison for up to an additional 140 years.
The 69-year-old left the Wende prison in upstate New York shortly before 9:30 am (1330 GMT) and was handed over “to the appropriate officials for transport to the state of California per a court order,” a spokesman for the New York prison authorities said in a statement.
Weinstein’s lawyers had argued for weeks against the transfer on medical grounds.
But in June New York judge Kenneth Case rejected their arguments and gave the green light to his transfer.
And legal efforts to stop the extradition in Los Angeles did not reach court.
“We are disappointed that the LA DA (Los Angeles district attorney) didn’t wait for the judge’s ruling, but we did expect this to happen at some point,” Weinstein’s spokesman, Juda Engelmayer, told AFP.
“We will be fighting so that Harvey can receive his needed medical care and of course, so that he can be treated fairly.”
According to California law, Weinstein’s trial must begin within 120 days of his extradition, which would be in mid-November.
His lawyer Mark Werksman told the Los Angeles Times that Weinstein could appear in a Los Angeles courtroom as early as Wednesday.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office did not confirm or deny any details of Weinstein’s extradition when contacted by AFP.
Weinstein has always denied the charges, both in New York and in Los Angeles, claiming that his accusers consented.
In early April, he formally appealed his conviction for rape and sexual assault in New York, which was handed down to him in March 2020 following a high-profile trial in Manhattan.
In total, nearly 90 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault.
The Los Angeles charges include allegations from ex-model Lauren Young that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a Beverly Hills hotel in 2013 when she was a 22-year-old aspiring actress.
Los Angeles prosecutors also accuse Weinstein of raping an Italian model — whose identity, like the other three Los Angeles accusers, has not been made public — the night before he allegedly assaulted Young.
Louis Vuitton, Porsche and Bulgari on Tuesday joined a legion of brands in dropping Chinese-Canadian pop idol Kris Wu, as sexual assault allegations swirling around the star drew condemnation across Chinese social media.
The scandal has parallels with China’s #MeToo movement sparked by Chinese feminists in 2018, where women were empowered to voice their experiences of sexual harassment — sometimes involving powerful public figures.
Nineteen-year-old student Du Meizhu accused Wu, 30, of date-raping her when she was 17 in a Sunday interview with Chinese news portal NetEase.
Du said the K-pop star had attempted to buy her silence with 500,000 RMB ($77,100) and told the outlet she planned to go ahead “with legal proceedings”.
Wu, who also holds Canadian citizenship and grew up between Vancouver and Guangzhou, has denied the allegations on social media.
“I only met Miss Du once at a friend’s gathering, I didn’t ply her with alcohol… I have never ‘coerced women into sex’ or engaged in ‘date rape’,” the megastar also known as Wu Yifan, wrote on Monday, adding he does not sleep with underage girls.
Wu’s studio also published a lengthy response to Du’s claims, denying any wrongdoing and alleging that she only met him once at a party, tried to extort his staff for millions of yuan and falsified her accusations.
“The studio has already launched the legal accountability process,” they wrote Monday evening.
Du’s claims sparked a wave of online condemnation of the megastar, as well as an outpouring of support for Du and female victims of sexual assault more generally.
The fallout has been significant, given its links with one of China’s most bankable stars.
Since Monday a growing number of brands including Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Porsche and Tencent Video have announced on social media that they were dropping or suspending their collaborations with Wu.
“Bulgari attaches great importance to the incident relating to Kris Wu and decided to terminate all related collaborations with Wu from today,” the luxury brand wrote on China’s Twitter-like Weibo Tuesday.
Louis Vuitton also said it was suspending cooperation with Wu.
Angry online users have been calling for other brands including L’Oreal Men and Lancome to sever ties with Wu.
Lancome said in a Weibo statement Tuesday that its partnership with Wu expired in June.
Since Du’s comments, more alleged victims have spoken out online, accusing Wu’s staff of predatory behaviour such as inviting them to boozy karaoke parties with the star.
The hashtags “girls help girls”, “girls helping girls” and “girls help girls time” — where women expressed solidarity with Du — were deactivated by Weibo and removed from the trending list Monday, although they could still be searched online.
The China Association of Performance Arts said Monday that Wu’s punishment “must be based on facts instead of relying on online exposes” but called for “severe punishment” if he is found to have broken the law.
State media has weighed in, as the Global Times called for necessary legal intervention in a Monday Weibo post.
The Weibo trending hashtag “the law is the lowest standard of morals” racked up 830 million views, as users complained about the high legal threshold required for victims to prove sexual assault in court.
A Special Offences and Domestic Violence Court sitting in the Ikeja area of Lagos has granted bail to Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju Omiyinka, aka Baba Ijesha in the sum of N2million with two sureties.
The court during Omiyinka’s trial on Thursday held that one of the sureties must be a blood relation, resident in Lagos, and must have a tax clearance certificate of three years preceding today. Such relation must also make a monetary bond of N1million to the Chief Registrar of the court.
Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju Omiyinka, aka Baba Ijesha, has pleaded not guilty to the offence of sexually assaulting a minor.
Baba Ijesha, who wore a white hooded jacket and a mask and was chained to another criminal suspect as he arrived before a Special Offences and Domestic Violence Court sitting in the Ikeja area of Lagos on Thursday.
He was arraigned by the State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on a six-count of attempted sexual assault, sexual assault of a minor, and indecent treatment of a child.
He however pleaded not guilty to all six counts.
The DPP, Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi subsequently told trial judge, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, to remand the defendant in a correctional facility pending the commencement of trial.
The defence team led by two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Babatunde Ogala and Dada Awosika however informed the court that the defence team had filed a bail application and had served same on the prosecution.
Mr Ogala specifically asked the court to grant them an audience to argue the bail application. The DPP, Mrs Adeyemi swiftly opposed the request stating that her team is yet to verify the medical reports which the defense intends to rely on for his bail consideration.
In a short ruling, Justice Taiwo granted the request of the defense team and asked parties to argue the bail application.
– Bail Hearing –
Lead counsel to the defendant, Babatunde Ogala reminded the court that the issue of bail is purely the right of the defendant as a citizen in line with Section 36 (5) of the Constitution. He asked the court to grant the defendant bail on liberal terms.
The DPP countered the arguments by insisting that the granting of bail is purely at the discretion of the court.
She asked the court to consider the nature of the offence and refuse the request for bail.
Justice Taiwo has stood the matter down to consider and write her ruling on the bail application.
A British MP faces trial over accusations he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy in 2008, it was revealed on Friday after reporting restrictions on the case were partially lifted.
Imran Ahmad Khan, 47, who represents the northern English city of Wakefield for the ruling Conservative party, faces a single count of sexual assault against the individual, who has legal anonymity because of the nature of the alleged offence.
The MP, who was elected in 2019, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday via video link and entered a not guilty plea.
In a statement posted on Twitter on Friday, Khan confirmed an accusation had been made against him but vehemently denied the allegation.
“May I make it clear from the outset that the allegation, which is from over 13 years ago, is denied in the strongest terms,” he wrote.
“This matter is deeply distressing to me and I, of course, take it extremely seriously.”
The MP described being accused of something he did not do was “shocking, destabilising and traumatic”.
“Those, like me, who are falsely accused of such actions are in the difficult position of having to endure damaging and painful speculation until the case is concluded,” he said, asking for privacy as he worked to clear his name.
Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring granted Khan unconditional bail before an appearance at the Old Bailey court on July 15.
Khan is one of a number of northern Tory MPs who won seats in the 2019 election overturning decades of dominance by the opposition Labour party in its so-called “red wall” constituencies, delivering a large Conservative majority on the back of support for Brexit.
Before entering parliament, he worked for the United Nations as a special assistant for political affairs in Mogadishu.
The Lagos State Government may soon charge Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju James, popularly known as ‘Baba Ijesa’, for sexual assault by penetration, among other crimes.
The sexual assault charge is punishable by life imprisonment.
The State’s Directorate of Public Prosecutions recommended five charges “after due consideration of the facts in the case file,” Lagos State Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Baba Ijesa was recently caught on tape harassing a minor.
In a video that went viral on social media, he was also seen confessing to the crime and pleading for forgiveness.
After he was detained, reports emerged that the accused was soon going to be released by the police.
The reports sparked outrage on social media, leading to a rebuttal by the police who said they were still investigating the matter.
Earlier, it was unclear whether Baba Ijesa would be charged for Sexual Assault by Penetration, but Mr. Onigbanjo’s Tuesday statement appears to have provided ample clarification.
In his Tuesday’s statement, Mr. Onigbanjo, who is also the state Attorney-General, said Baba Ijesha would be charged under the Criminal Law of Lagos State.
One of the charges includes Indecent Treatment of a child, which is punishable by seven years imprisonment.
Another is Defilement of a Child, which is punishable by life imprisonment,
Sexual Assault by Penetration is also punishable by life imprisonment.
Baba Ijesha is also being charged for Attempted Sexual Assault by Penetration, punishable by 14 years imprisonment, and Sexual Assault, which is punishable by three years imprisonment.
“Whilst the State would ensure that Mr. Olanrewaju James’s rights as enshrined in the Constitution are upheld, the Ministry of Justice would not relent in its efforts in ensuring that whoever sexually abuses any resident of Lagos State is speedily brought to book,” Mr. Onigbanjo said.
“It is instructive to note that the Lagos State Ministry of Justice has been consistent in its efforts in protecting the vulnerable in our society and since the establishment of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team in 2014, it has till date prosecuted over 800 cases of Sexual and Domestic offenses.
“The Attorney-General hereby assures Lagosians and indeed Nigerians that in accordance with the DPP’s advise, charges would be filed accordingly.”
T.I responded to the recent allegations in an 8-minute IGTV video, which later prompted a heavy backlash from fans on social media.
Last week, an entrepreneur and former acquaintance of the couple, Sabrina Peterson shared stories that that had been collected by over 30 women who claimed they had been victims of rapper TI aka Clifford Joseph Harris Jr, and his wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris alleged sex ring.
Some of the victims report that they as young as 15 years old at the time.
Following all these accusations, T.I put out a very lengthy response in an attempt to prove his innocence and stress the fact that he is a supporter of all women based causes.
Continuing, T.I. stressed that “Women who have been victimized deserve to be heard,” while claiming that he, “would never treat a woman the way I treat a threat. hat has to be distinguished.”
Tiny also responded saying that Peterson was harassing her family.
In a statement to Complex magazine, the stars of “T.I. & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle” denied all the claims that were made and warned that they may take legal action if Peterson continues to make the claims, which were referred to as “egregiously appalling.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Harris want to be on record and more importantly want the public to know they emphatically deny in the strongest way possible the egregiously appalling allegations being made against them by Sabrina Peterson,” the statement read. “The Harrises have had difficulty with this woman for well over a decade. They are taking this matter very seriously, and if these allegations don’t end, they will take appropriate legal action.”
T.I’s standing with social media users, particularly women, is already not in a good place. In 2019, into last year, T.I. faced major backlash for his invasive and allegedly joking comments about attending his daughter’s gynaecological appointment to “check her hymen is still intact”.
Sexual assault and harassment allegations have shaken Turkey’s literary world, creating a rare #MeToo moment as women break taboos and speak out in the still largely patriarchal country.
The online testimonials have led to the suicide of one author who was singled out after allegedly sending a series of lewd text messages to younger women.
But while born in social media anonymity, the movement has since been joined by well-known voices, marking the first time women have dared to come forward against major authors — and the first time Turkey’s mainstream media have taken notice.
It all started with a single tweet.
A user called “Leyla Salinger” shared a video of novelist Hasan Ali Toptas — once dubbed the eastern Franz Kafka — accompanied by a caption reading: “How many of us are waiting for this man to be exposed?”
From there, accusations from 20 women mainly on social media against Toptas followed, leading many more to describe the harassment and abuse they allegedly suffered at the hands of other male writers.
Ibrahim Colak, 51, another author swept up in the wave of stories of abuse, killed himself on December 10 in Ankara after tweeting a seeming apology to his family.
“I had not prepared myself for such an end. I wanted to be a good person but I failed,” Colak tweeted before taking his life, adding he could not “look in the faces of my wife, children and friends”.
Local media attributed allegations that Colak sent the lewd text messages to the same Twitter user Leyla.
Her Twitter account has since disappeared.
Moved by the stories, author Pelin Buzluk came forward with her own allegations against Toptas to the Hurriyet daily newspaper.
“I was in shock,” she said, describing a “very frightening moment” in which Toptas “approached and forced” himself on her in 2011.
“‘Well, why did you wear that dress?’,” Buzluk said he told her in response.
Toptas issued a statement that caused further controversy and confusion, describing his actions as that of a “patriarchal perpetrator”.
“An individual can make mistakes without realising, unaware of the large pain inflicted on the other party, until one understands what it is to be a patriarchal perpetrator,” Toptas said.
“I sincerely apologise to anyone I unknowingly have hurt or upset,” he added.
A US federal judge in New York on Tuesday rejected a proposed civil settlement that would have created a nearly $19 million fund for dozens of women who suffered sexual misconduct and harassment at the hands of Harvey Weinstein.
The proposed deal had been announced last month by New York state’s attorney general, putting an end to both a class action suit and a separate case brought against Weinstein, his brother Bob and their former film studio The Weinstein Company.
Despite the attorney general’s approval of the settlement, District Judge Alvin Hellerstein on Tuesday rejected the deal, which had been contested by several of Weinstein’s victims.
Notably, the disgraced Hollywood mogul was not to be required to admit any responsibility for his actions, nor was he expected to contribute any of his own money to the fund.
Attorney Douglas Wigdor — whose clients include Tarale Wulff, a former cocktail waitress who alleged that Weinstein raped her in his New York apartment in 2005 — had described the deal as “a complete sellout.”
“We have been saying for over a year and a half that the settlement terms and conditions were unfair and should never be imposed on sexual assault survivors,” Wigdor and two other attorneys representing victims said in a statement.
The trio said they were “pleased that Judge Hellerstein swiftly rejected the one-sided proposal.”
John Clune, an attorney for another alleged victim, quoted Hellerstein as saying: “This is not a class action.”
Lawyers representing several women were angry that survivors who did not want to accept the settlement would have been prevented from pursuing other legal avenues.
In February, Weinstein was found guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree in a landmark verdict for the #MeToo movement.
He is currently serving 23 years in prison.
The lengthy sentence capped a remarkable downfall for the 68-year-old, who has been accused of years of vile predatory behavior by almost 90 women, including Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek.
This fund was seen by some of the parties as possibly the best settlement his accusers would ever reach.
US presidential candidate Joe Biden on Friday emphatically denied sexually assaulting a former aide, saying the alleged incident 27 years ago “never happened.”
The former vice president thus broke a month of silence on the most potentially damaging claims he has confronted since launching his White House bid a year ago.
Republicans have tried to use them to damage his prospects against President Donald Trump in November’s election.
“They aren’t true. This never happened,” Biden said in a statement addressing the accusations made by Tara Reade, a former staffer in his Senate office.
The campaign of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee had forcefully denied the allegations, but Biden himself had yet to address them publicly until now.
Biden, 77, said Reade’s then-supervisor and former senior staffers in his office “have said, unequivocally, that she never came to them and complained or raised issues.”
Reade said on a podcast in March that then-senator Biden sexually assaulted her in a Capitol Hill corridor in 1993, when she was 29.
Reade, now 56, alleged that Biden pinned her against a wall when she brought him a gym bag, put his hands “down my skirt” and violated her.
Reade’s public account evolved over time. In early 2019, when Biden was preparing his presidential bid, she was among multiple women who accused Biden of touching them inappropriately, or in ways that made them feel uncomfortable.
She has since presented a more serious claim of assault to media outlets, and filed an incident report with the Washington police in early April in which she did not name Biden.
Biden went on a morning news show to publicly refute the claims.
“It is not true. I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened, and it didn’t,” Biden told MSNBC.
“I don’t know why after 27 years all of this gets raised,” Biden added. “But I’m not going to question her motive. I’m not going to attack her.”
But he stressed that “I have a right to say, look at the facts. Check it out.”
Trump, who faces Biden in a presidential election that has been turned on its head by the coronavirus pandemic, himself faced more than a dozen accusations of sexual harassment and assault before he became president.
He came out Friday on the side of Biden, telling a right-wing radio host: “I would just say to Joe Biden: Just go out and fight it. It’s, you know, it’s one of those things.”
“I’ve been a total victim of this nonsense false accusations,” he said.
‘Nothing’ to hide
Reade has not produced a copy of the complaint that she allegedly filed in 1993.
Biden, calling for transparency, said he has asked officials to search the National Archives, where he says any such document would now be stored.
“There’s nothing for me to hide,” he said.
But Biden resisted the idea of calling for a search among his Senate papers.
Those documents “do not contain personnel files,” he said.
During a Friday evening virtual fundraiser, Biden told donors he was heartened that journalists were investigating the matter: “It isn’t enough just to simply take my word for it and to dismiss it out of hand. Frankly, that shouldn’t be enough for anyone.”
Biden, who has pledged to pick a woman to be his vice president, stressed that he has always worked to improve conditions for women, including authoring the Violence Against Women Act.
He was also asked by MSNBC about comments he made during the 2018 Supreme Court confirmation process for Brett Kavanaugh, who had been accused of sexual assault.
Biden said at the time that when a woman comes forward with such accusations, “you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real.”
Asked what made things different now, Biden said: “Women are to be believed, given the benefit of the doubt, if they come forward and say something happened to them.”
“Then you have to look at the circumstances and the facts,” he added.
“The truth matters,” he said. “These claims are not true.”
Biden leads Trump in national polling ahead of November’s elections by about five percentage points, according to a poll average compiled by RealClearPolitics.
Several women seen as candidates to be Biden’s running mate, including Senator Kamala Harris and former Georgia state lawmaker Stacey Abrams, have expressed support for Biden regarding the allegations.
The top Democrat in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, endorsed Biden for president this week and said Thursday that she remains “satisfied” with his response to the allegations.
Biden, meanwhile, is carrying on with online events such as town halls and fundraisers during the coronavirus pandemic, locked down at his Delaware home where he built a makeshift studio in his basement for television appearances.