PARIS (REUTERS, AFP) - Women in Hollywood expressed relief, hope and vindication on Friday (May 25) as movie producer Harvey Weinstein was charged with rape after decades of alleged sexual misconduct.
Weinstein was met by dozens of photographers and camera crews as he walked into a New York City police station to be charged with two counts of rape and one count of a criminal sexual act involving two unidentified women. He was later released on a US$1 million (S$1.3 million) cash bond.
Weinstein, 66, denies having nonconsensual sex with anyone, and his attorney said his client would plead not guilty.
Italian actress Asia Argento, one of more than 70 women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, live-tweeted his surrender.
“This is the only movie Harvey Weinstein will be remembered for #perpwalk,” Argento wrote. “Today, Harvey Weinstein will take his first step on his inevitable descent to hell.”
Weinstein was charged after a seven-month investigation in New York and more than 20 years of alleged misconduct.
Actress Rose McGowan, who has accused Weinstein of raping her in 1997, said on NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today programme that she never believed this day would come.
“We got you, Harvey Weinstein, we got you,” McGowan later tweeted.
Actress Louise Godbold said she was "elated".
"I'm glad we're finally seeing something that looks like closure," said Godbold, a 55-year-old former film producer, who heads a parenting and education NGO in Los Angeles.
In an Oct 9 blog post and Democracy Now TV interview, British-born Godbold alleged that Weinstein cornered her while giving her a tour of his office in 1991, begged her for a massage and put her hand on his crotch.
She also described another encounter a few weeks later in a suite in a Los Angeles hotel, where she says Weinstein stripped naked and pressured her into giving him a massage.
While she is not involved in the case against him, Godbold said that if convicted of rape Weinstein should receive "the same punishment our society deems the right punishment for rapists, regardless of status."
She also wants to see the fallen movie titan stripped of "his power, his wealth and his influence because I don't want ever for anyone, Harvey or anyone like him, to be able to use those things to dominate and abuse other people."
The accusations against the co-founder of the Miramax film studio helped give rise to the #MeToo movement, in which people shared stories of sexual abuse, and the Time’s Up campaign against workplace sexual harassment.
In a statement, the Time’s Up campaign welcomed the charges against “a man whose actions were so egregious that they spawned a global reckoning.”
Boogie Nights actress Heather Graham, who has spoken of unsettling encounters with Weinstein in the early 2000s, wrote on Twitter that, instead of focusing on him, she would be celebrating powerful women.
“This is just the beginning #TheFutureIsFemale,” Graham tweeted.
Among others weighing in: Mighty Aphrodite star Mira Sorvino, who tweeted “#Justice” next to a news report about Weinstein.
Louisette Geiss, another of Weinstein’s accusers, tweeted that it was about time. “Elated and so proud to stand next to the brave women & men who are creating a new normal.”
There was no immediate public reaction from other stars who have spoken of being harassed by Weinstein, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd and Salma Hayek.
New York Times journalist Jodi Kantor, who shared a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the Weinstein allegations, on Twitter listed the reactions she had heard from victims. They included tears of relief and irreparable loss, outright joy and nausea.
“The common denominator: trouble sleeping last night,” Kantor wrote.