In a mirror image of his days presiding over Hollywood red carpets, the disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was led in handcuffs past a gantlet of photographers on Friday as he appeared in court to face charges that he had raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex.
Mr. Weinstein’s appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court lasted barely 10 minutes, but stood not only as a breakthrough in the investigation into sex-crime claims against him but as a watershed in the larger #MeToo movement. After decades of harnessing his wealth and power to silence women — and after weathering an earlier criminal inquiry into groping allegations — his reign as a film-industry titan suffered a decisive blow in, of all places, the shopworn arraignment courtroom, where he was among the morning cattle call of defendants.
It was 9:25 a.m. when Mr. Weinstein — in a dark blazer, a light-blue sweater and an untucked button-down shirt — was escorted into courtroom AR-1 by Sgt. Keri Thompson and Detective Nicholas DiGuadio, two investigators from the New York Police Department’s Special Victims Division. The unit had been pushing hard for months on Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, to pursue a case against Mr. Weinstein, particularly after Mr. Vance declined to prosecute the groping case of an Italian model, Amber Battilana, three years ago because of what he called a lack of evidence.
As the hearing opened, Mr. Weinstein, still in handcuffs and looking vaguely shellshocked, was led with his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, into the well of the court where he stood in front of Judge Kevin McGrath. The lead prosecutor in the case, Joan Illuzzi, announced the charges against him: first-degree rape and third-degree rape in one case; and first-degree criminal sex act in another.The criminal sex act count stemmed from an encounter with Lucia Evans, who first told The New Yorker, and then investigators from Mr. Vance’s office, that Mr. Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him during what she expected would be a casting meeting at the Miramax office in TriBeCa in 2004. The victim in the rape case has not been publicly identified, but prosecutors said that that attack occurred on March 18, 2013, at 569 Lexington Avenue, the address for the DoubleTree Metropolitan Hotel.
After noting that the charges had emerged after “months of investigation,” Ms. Illuzzi added that the inquiry had shown “that this defendant used his money, power and position to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually.”
Ms. Illuzzi also said that the investigation would continue and she asked Judge McGrath to issue an order of protection against Mr. Weinstein on behalf of one of the women, who was not identified. A grand jury remains empaneled in the case and is still looking into whether Mr. Weinstein abused more women and used his vast financial resources to keep them quiet.
Mr. Weinstein said nothing during the hearing, standing with his back to a roomful of reporters. He was not required to enter a plea because he was arrested on a criminal complaint, rather than an indictment. But after the hearing, Mr. Brafman said his client intended to plead not guilty. By Wednesday, Mr. Weinstein will also have to decide whether he plans to testify in front of the grand jury.