Harvey Weinstein May Face Criminal Charges In Los Angeles As Sex Crimes Unit Expands Investigation

The Los Angeles County DA has escalated their investigations of sexual assault alleged against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, and may file criminal charges against him in the new year, according to the LA Times, citing law enforcement sources.

There are currently eight open cases against Weinstein at the district attorney's office, according to a spokesperson for the agency. Four are from the LAPD and four are from the Beverly Hills Police Department.

The L.A. County district attorney’s sex crimes unit has ramped up its inquiry into allegations of sexual assault in other jurisdictions against Weinstein in recent months, sources told The Times.

Aaron Filler, the attorney representing actress Paz de la Huerta in a civil suit against Weinstein for sexual battery, said that he received a telephone call from Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Thompson, head of the sex crimes unit, about a month ago, requesting an interview with his client. -LA Times

"My impression was that they are commencing a wide-ranging criminal investigation and at this point are reaching out to every victim they can identify and try and do telephone interviews around the country," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Thompson, head of the sex crimes unit. "They have more leeway to reach out to more victims in more jurisdictions and bring them into a courtroom than in New York."

Two of the key cases involve alleged sexual assaults at two hotels during the same week in February 2013. In one of those, an Italian model and actress filed a report alleging that Weinstein raped her at the Mr. C Beverly Hills hotel - the first case against him reported in Southern California.

She told the Times in an earlier interview that Weinstein "bullied" his way into her hotel room at the Los Angeles Italia Film, Fashion and Art Fest that year.

"Once inside, he asked me questions about myself, but soon became very aggressive and demanding and kept asking to see me naked."

She says she tried to change the subject - showing Weinstein pictures of her children as she cried and begged him to leave.

"He grabbed me by the hair and forced me to do something I did not want to do," claiming that the high-profile filmmaker forced her to perform oral sex on him.

"He then dragged me to the bathroom and forcibly raped me."

If filed, the charges could come before Manhattan prosecutors complete their criminal trial of the filmmaker in January, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Sources have confirmed to The Times that the district attorney’s sex crimes division has intensified contact with at least two accusers and has also broadened its review to include several other women across the country who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

This stepped-up investigation could open up a second plank of prosecution for the embattled mogul, who faces four criminal sex crimes charges involving three women in New York.

A spokesperson for Weinstein declined to comment. The former film producer has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. -LA Times

Weinstein's attorneys have repeatedly denied that he was at Mr. C Beverly Hills that night, or ever alone with the accuser. The actress's attorney, meanwhile, says: "My client is fully cooperating with law enforcement and the D.A.’s office," adding "She will appear and tell the jury how Weinstein raped her in a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2013. ... It will be difficult and stressful for her, but she knows it must occur in order to convict Weinstein, who continues to buy time with delaying tactics."

In the second key case, Weinstein is accused of raping another woman in - also in Beverly Hills. The accuser may testify in his New York trial as a witness to his prior behavior.

California is unlike New York in that it allows for "me too" evidence of sexual harassment and discrimination - meaning "prosecutors here could have multiple accusers who are not plaintiffs testify against Weinstein."

Meanwhile, the disgraced mogul faces a class-action lawsuit, and there are at least 18 women with individual lawsuits against Weinstein who allege sexual misconduct, harassment or assault.

Weinstein’s legal woes continue to mount. A former teen model, Kaja Sokola, filed a lawsuit last week against the producer under the Child Victims Act, alleging the former filmmaker sexually assaulted her at his New York City apartment in 2002 when she was 16.

Sokola was initially part of a federal class-action suit filed in December 2017 against the filmmaker. Weinstein and his former film studio’s board have reached a controversial $47-million settlement with several women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, according to attorneys involved in the negotiations.

About $25 million will be allocated to the accusers, $7.3 million to unsecured creditors and former Weinstein Co. employees and about $12.2 million will be earmarked to pay legal fees of the studio’s directors and officers, according to a copy of the settlement term sheet obtained by The Times. The Weinstein Co. filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2018. -LA Times

Last week Weinstein came under fire for painting himself as a champion of women, calling himself "the forgotten man" as he congratulated himself for helping women during his career.