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Weinstein pleads not guilty to sexual assaults in California

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Charges against former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein involve five women in incidents spanning from 2004 to 2013.

Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles court on Wednesday to four counts of rape and seven other sexual assault counts.

Sheriff’s deputies brought the 69-year-old convicted rapist into court in a wheelchair. He was wearing a brown jail jumpsuit and face mask.

Attorney Mark Werksman entered the plea for the disgraced movie mogul a day after Weinstein was extradited to California from New York, where he was serving a 23-year prison term.

Weinstein spoke only to say “thank you” to Judge Sergio Tapia, who wished him good luck as the hearing ended.

He now awaits a second trial and the possibility of another lengthy sentence.

Weinstein’s indictment involves five women in incidents spanning from 2004 to 2013. Most are said to have taken place in the hotels in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles that the New York-based Weinstein would make his headquarters for Hollywood business. Some took place during Oscars week, when his films were perennial contenders.

He pleaded not guilty to four counts of rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery by restraint and one count of sexual penetration by use of force, charges that together could bring a sentence of 140 years.

Werksman told the judge that he was filing documents requesting the dismissal of three of the counts, saying they were beyond the statute of limitations.

“They’re baseless, they’re from long, long ago, they’re uncorroborated,” Werksman said of the charges after the hearing. “We are confident that if we have a fair trial he will be acquitted.”

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The terms of Weinstein’s extradition require that his trial begin by November. Werksman said Weinstein had yet to waive that right. But it would be unusual for the trial to begin that quickly. Weinstein returns to court for a motions hearing next week.

The women were not identified in the indictment.

A New York jury found Weinstein guilty of raping an aspiring actress in 2013 in a Manhattan hotel room and forcibly performing oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006 at his Manhattan apartment.

He is appealing that conviction, seeking a new trial. Weinstein has maintained his innocence and has contended that any sexual activity was consensual.

The Los Angeles charges came from a task force established to tackle sexual misconduct in Hollywood as the #MeToo movement gained momentum.

“Anyone who abuses their power and influence to prey upon others will be brought to justice,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement on Wednesday.

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