The court of public opinion has ruled on Harvey Weinstein, the human-bulldozer of a Hollywood producer who strong-armed his movies and their stars to the Oscar podium and who allegedly sexually harassed or assaulted nearly 60 women over the course of three decades. But what’s going to happen to Weinstein in a court of law?
Weinstein is currently under investigation by sex crimes detectives in New York, London, and Los Angeles.
The NYPD opened a criminal investigation into Weinstein on Thursday, releasing the following statement:
“Based on information referenced in published news reports the NYPD is conducting a review to determine if there are any additional complaints relating to the Harvey Weinstein matter. No filed complaints have been identified as of this time and as always, the NYPD encourages anyone who may have information pertaining to this matter to call the CrimeStoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.”
That New Yorker piece also made public a recording of Weinstein’s conversation with then-22-year-old Ambra Battilana, an Italian model, the day after he groped her during a business meeting. Battilana had reported the assault to the police that night and was wearing a wire when they met the following day, catching his admission on tape as police officers monitored their talk. As the Times wrote, “the investigation that unfolded over the next two weeks was perhaps the biggest threat ever faced” by Weinstein, but it came to nothing: Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. declined to press charges and Weinstein paid Battilana for her silence.
Now, the NYPD says that along with “several other new allegations made in recent days,” they’re also exploring a claim by actress Lucia Stoller, who says Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him at his Tribeca office in 2004. An assault of that nature is a criminal sexual act in the first degree, for which, under New York law, there is no statute of limitations. If Stoller’s allegation is true, Weinstein committed a Class B felony punishable by five to 25 years in prison.
As the BBC reports, UK police are investigating several sexual assault allegations against Weinstein: “The Metropolitan Police says he is accused of assaulting three women in separate incidents in London in the late 1980s, 1992, 2010, 2011 and 2015.” The alleged attacks occurred in Westminster, Camden, and west London.
To date, two women in the UK have accused Weinstein of rape: Actress Lysette Anthony told the police Weinstein raped her in her London home in the 1980s. It was a “pathetic, revolting” attack, she said, that made her feel “disgusted and embarrassed.” (She reportedly had video evidence that she gave to the police as well.) An anonymous former Miramax employee using the pseudonym Sarah Smith told the Daily Mail she was raped by Weinstein in the basement apartment below Miramax’s offices in southwest London. The assault, she said, was in 1992, and she is considering issuing a formal complaint to police.
In the UK, there is no statute of limitations for sexual abuse. The maximum sentence for a convicted rapist is life in prison.
The LAPD is investigating a rape allegation against Weinstein from 2013. An Italian model, who did not disclose her name, told the L.A. Times that Weinstein “bullied his way into her hotel room at Mr. C Beverly Hills — a hotel within Los Angeles city limits — and then forcibly raped her in the bathroom.” As she told the Times:
“When he left, he acted like nothing happened. I barely knew this man. It was the most demeaning thing ever done to me by far. It sickens me still. … He made me feel like an object, like nothing, with all his power.”
LAPD spokesman Officer Tony Im confirmed to Variety that “the case is under investigation.”
As of September 2016, there is no statute of limitations for rape in California. But that only applies to victims who were assaulted after January 1, 2017. For Weinstein’s accusers, the previous limit — ten years — still applies, so Weinstein could face prosecution in this case.
Just last year, after national outrage over the six-month sentence for sexual assault given to former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner (who ended up serving only half that), Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to expand the legal definition of rape — which now includes all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault — and impose new mandatory minimum sentences on some sex offenders. (For context, Emily Doe, the victim in the Turner case, was not allowed to call her assault “rape” under California’s laws at the time because Turner penetrated her with his fingers, not his penis.)
Under the law, which went into effect on January 1, 2017, punishment for rape now must include time in state prison.
Correction: This story previously stated that the statute of limitations for rape in California was ten years. It used to be ten years, but a new law signed in September 2016 eliminated the statute. However, the previous statute still applies for any victim who alleges assault before January 1, 2017.