October 16, 2017
THE mounting allegations against Harvey Weinstein could have major legal implications for the Hollywood producer according to legal experts.
The women making the allegations could pursue civil lawsuits or try to bring criminal charges against Weinstein.
American lawyers in Los Angeles and New York – where most of Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct took place from the 1990s to 2015 – claim the producer could face a number of potential lawsuits.
The 65-year-old film producer could even face criminal allegations ranging from sexual harassment, indecent exposure, committing a lewd act and even charges of rape, some added.
But New York criminal lawyer Stuart Slotnick said cases could be difficult to pursue because of statutes of limitations – even if it was felt there was sufficient evidence to justify a charge.
He told People: “If a woman comes forward and says this happened on this date and it’s within the statute of limitations, there is a likelihood that a prosecutor will look at it and take the case. The statute of limitations in New York used to be five years but it was extended in many cases because of different circumstances.”
Asia Argento, an Italian actor and director, Lucia Evans, a former aspiring actor, and one unnamed woman accused Weinstein of rape – allegations he “unequivocally denies”.
Hollyoaks star Lysette Anthony has vowed to face Weinstein in court after she recently revealed she told police the Hollywood producer raped her at her home in the late 80s.
Four other women told the magazine that Weinstein touched them without their consent in a way “that could be classified as an assault”.
Others, including the actors Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette, alleged sexual harassment on the part of the Hollywood mogul.
Mr Slotnick said: “In prosecution for a Class A felony, and rape in the first degree or aggravated sexual abuse, there’s no statute of limitations.
“For any other felonies it’s five years. So there’s some crimes of rape where there’s no statute and some where it’s five years. Rape in the first degree would be forcible compulsion.”
Weeks after the recording, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance decided not to press charges, the New Yorker reported.
But the case could reopen with the right prosecutor in light of the overwhelming number of allegations against Weinstein that have recently emerged.
New York lawyer Lawrence Pearson told Vulture: “If there is a large amount of corroborating evidence that shows he had a pattern of conduct, then a prosecutor who is more willing to be aggressive could very well bring a case. Or if new DNA evidence is discovered, that may be more willing to prosecute.”
If Weinstein were to be charged and subsequently convicted in a court despite his denials, he could face five to 25 years in prison, The Guardian reported citing legal experts.
Weinstein said he “unequivocally denied” claims of non-consensual sex.
In a statement. his lawyers added: “Mr Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”
In the wake of the scandal, Weinstein has now been forced out of his own company.