NEW YORK — Prosecutors in Los Angeles charged film producer Harvey Weinstein with rape and other sex crimes involving two women, even as his trial on similar charges began in New York City on Monday.
The new criminal complaint was announced just hours after Weinstein, who recently had back surgery, hobbled into a Manhattan courtroom with a walker for the start of his rape trial there.
The Los Angeles County district attorney, Jackie Lacey, said Weinstein had been charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013.
Weinstein pushed his way into a hotel room on Feb. 18, 2013, and raped a woman, Lacey’s office said. He is also accused of sexually assaulting a second woman the following night at a hotel suite in Beverly Hills.
Weinstein has been charged with one felony count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force, and sexual battery by restraint, Lacey said in a statement. He faces up to 28 years in prison if convicted.
“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” Lacey said.
In New York City, dozens of protesters gathered outside the state Supreme Court in Manhattan on a damp day, including several actresses who have accused Weinstein of wrongdoing, holding signs with slogans like “Justice for survivors” and “Coercion is not consent.”
Rose McGowan, an actress who has accused Weinstein of sexual assault, called the trial in Manhattan “a moment of justice,” though most of Weinstein’s accusers “won’t have even one day in court.” Addressing the disgraced producer, she said, “You brought this on yourself by hurting so many.”
McGowan was joined by seven other women in the entertainment industry in Foley Square, a park two blocks from the courthouse.
Inside the courtroom, Justice James M. Burke dealt a blow to Weinstein’s defense, ruling that it cannot call as a witness the disgraced detective who was accused of withholding evidence from prosecutors that was favorable to the defense.
Weinstein’s lawyers had hoped to call the detective, Nicholas DiGaudio, as part of an effort to cast doubt on the New York City Police Department investigation of Weinstein.
Weinstein dropped his head into his hands after the judge’s ruling.
Jury selection will begin Tuesday. The lawyers will pick 12 jurors and six alternates.
Six women are expected to testify about sexual encounters with Weinstein, though the criminal charges hinge entirely on allegations made by two of them.
Weinstein is charged with raping one woman, who has not been identified in court documents, at a midtown Manhattan hotel in March 2013 and forcing a second woman, Mimi Haleyi, a production assistant, to allow him to perform oral sex on her at his apartment in Manhattan in 2006.
He faces one count of rape and one count of criminal sexual act in those cases, and if convicted could be sentenced to a maximum of 25 years in prison.
Weinstein maintains that his sexual encounters with the women were consensual.
The producer also faces a charge of predatory sexual assault for committing a serious sex crime against more than one person. If convicted of that charge, Weinstein faces a maximum of life in prison.
DiGaudio’s handling of the evidence became an issue in October 2018, when one of the charges in the indictment related to a former actress was thrown out by Burke, who is presiding over the rape trial. The actress, Lucia Evans, had accused Weinstein of forcing her to perform oral sex on him during a business meeting.
But it came to light that DiGaudio had failed to inform prosecutors that Evans had given a different version of the story to a friend, saying she had willingly agreed to the sex act after Weinstein promised her acting jobs in return.
Evans insisted that she had never consented, and DiGaudio denied withholding information from prosecutors. He was still removed from the case, and the charge was dropped, at the prosecution’s request.
Weinstein’s lawyers had hoped to call the detective and grill him on the lapses in the investigation. Burke ruled against them, though he said other witnesses could be asked about the detective’s work on cross-examination.
“My ruling is that the defense may not call Detective DiGaudio on their case, which is not to say they may not vigorously cross-examine a witness about their dealings with him,” Burke said, adding that if it makes it relevant “to call him after then so be it.”
Now, however, even if Weinstein prevails in Manhattan, he will face a second trial in Los Angeles. Lacey said at a news conference that eight women had come forward to report being sexually assaulted by Weinstein in Los Angeles County.
Charges had been brought in two instances. Three of those allegations, however, happened too long ago to prosecute under the state’s statute of limitations. Lacey said her office was still investigating the allegations of the other three women to determine if charges could be filed.