Could Harvey Weinstein — the alleged serial sexual abuser who was once among the most powerful men in Hollywood — wind up in a courtroom, or even prison?
Criminal investigations against the producer-turned-pariah, who has been accused by dozens of women of varying degrees of sexual violence, including rape, are underway in several cities: New York, London, and Los Angeles.
On Thursday, Deadline reported that the LAPD sent three sexual abuse cases against Harvey Weinstein to the District Attorney’s office. The DA’s office confirmed the three cases are “under review.” The DA received the cases on February 1. A law enforcement source told Deadline that the DA is “very confident these are solid and actionable cases.”
These cases, along with two from the Beverly Hills Police Department (also against Weinstein), are the first to be filed since the LAPD launched a special task force to investigate sex crimes in the entertainment industry. Announced last November as allegations against Weinstein, director James Toback, and Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick filled headlines, the task force consists of “veteran sex crimes prosecutors,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement, working in five two-person teams.
At the time, the LAPD had 28 open sex crimes cases involving figures in media and the entertainment industry. In addition to those 28 cases, Deadline reported that 37 other sex crimes reports had been sent to other jurisdictions, and cold case units at the LAPD were involved in those investigations as well.
All of the accused listed above have denied the allegations against them.
Since the start of 2017, there is no statute of limitations on sex crimes in the state of California. For any act that occurred before the first of that year, the previous statute — 10 years — still applies. At least one case is still within the statute: An Italian model, who has not disclosed her name, alleges that Weinstein “bullied his way into her hotel room” and then “forcibly raped her in the bathroom” in 2013.
LAPD spokesman Officer Sal Ramirez told the L.A. Times that individuals with out-of-statute allegations can and should still report to the police, as those reports “could potentially bolster any current and forthcoming case as it creates a pattern of behavior.”
In the aftermath of outrage over the Brock Turner case, when the former Stanford swimmer was given a slap-on-the-wrist sentence of only six months — he only wound up serving only half that time — Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to expand the legal definition of rape. It now includes all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault; Emily Doe, the victim in the Turner case, could not call her assault “rape” under California law because Turner penetrated her with his fingers, not his penis.
The law, which went into effect on January 1, 2017, also imposes new mandatory minimum sentences for some sex offenders. Punishment for rape now must include time in state prison.