Film producer Harvey Weinstein, charged in New York City with sex crimes, may argue that his case is one of “bad behavior” but not of criminal acts, his attorney says.
In an era in which women in the film industry are speaking out about sexual harassment, film producer Harvey Weinstein’s attorney invoked an old Hollywood stereotype in the producer’s defense, the Los Angeles Times reports. “Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood,” Benjamin Brafman said, referring to the practice of a person in power demanding sex in exchange for career advancement. “And to the extent that there is bad behavior in that industry, that is not what this is about. Bad behavior is not on trial in this case. It’s only if you intentionally committed a criminal act, and Mr. Weinstein vigorously denies that.”
It’s the first prominent prosecution of a Hollywood figure since a wave of accusations of sexual harassment and assault rocked the industry. Weinstein’s defense appears to draw a distinction between objectionable behavior and criminal behavior. Some experts said it suggests an ugly legal battle ahead. Steve Cooley, a former Los Angeles County district attorney, said prosecutors are likely to allege that Weinstein has a long history of sexual assault, a tactic employed by authorities in the Bill Cosby case. Weinstein’s lawyers, on the other hand, will probably “raise every possible defense: statute of limitations, discredit the victims and their motivations.” Weinstein was charged with rape in the first and third degree involving a woman in 2013, and with committing a criminal sexual act in the first degree with another woman in 2004. Brafman said Weinstein maintains that any sexual acts were consensual and that the charges are “constitutionally flawed.”