Harvey Weinstein indicted by grand jury in rape case

Former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has been indicted by a grand jury on rape and criminal sex act charges.

Defence lawyers say 'political pressure' made indictment unavoidable

A statement issued through a spokesman for Harvey Weinstein said the former movie mogul learned the specific charges and the accusers' identities only after turning himself in Friday. (Steven Hirsch-Pool/Getty Images)

Harvey Weinstein has been indicted by a grand jury on rape and criminal sex act charges, according to Manhattan's district attorney.

Cyrus Vance Jr. announced the indictment Wednesday, saying it brings the former movie mogul "another step closer to accountability."

The indictment came hours after Weinstein's lawyers said he'd decided not to testify before the grand jury. They said there wasn't enough time to prepare because he learned the specific charges and the accusers' identities only after turning himself in Friday. They also blamed "political pressure" on Vance. 

"Regardless of how compelling Mr. Weinstein's personal testimony might be, an indictment was inevitable," a Weinstein spokesperson said earlier, in a statement.

Vance said his office will "try this case not in the press, but in the courtroom where it belongs."

Weinstein, 66, was charged Friday with first- and third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sex act in cases involving two women in New York. Dozens more women have accused him of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to assault in various locales.

He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex, and his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said Tuesday that Weinstein was "confident he's going to clear his name" in the New York prosecution.

Brafman called the rape allegation "absurd," saying that the accuser and Weinstein had a decade-long, consensual sexual relationship that continued after the alleged 2013 attack.

The woman, who hasn't been identified publicly, told investigators Weinstein confined her in a hotel room and raped her.

The other accuser in the case, former actress Lucia Evans, has gone public with her account of Weinstein forcing her to perform oral sex at his office in 2004. The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assaults unless they come forward publicly.

This combination photo shows actresses listed in alphabetical order, top row from left, Asia Argento, Rosanna Arquette, Jessica Barth, Cara Delevingne, Romola Garai, Judith Godreche, Heather Graham, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Lea Seydoux and Mira Sorvino, who have made allegations against Weinstein. (Associated Press)

Vance, a Democrat, came under public pressure from women's groups to prosecute Weinstein after declining to do so in 2015, when an Italian model went to police to say Weinstein had groped her during a meeting.

Police set up a sting in which the woman recorded herself confronting Weinstein and him apologizing for his conduct. But Vance decided there wasn't enough evidence to bring charges.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, ordered the state attorney general to investigate how Vance handled that matter.

With files from CBC News