Weinstein pleads not guilty to sex assault charges

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Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault charges in a NY courtroom on Tuesday (Jun 5) - the next step in a high-stakes legal battle that the #MeToo movement hopes will end with the disgraced Hollywood mogul behind bars.

Reports said he is expected to enter a not guilty plea for two-counts of rape and one first-degree criminal sex act charge.

The 66-year-old Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

The hearing in Manhattan comes after a grand jury indicted the former film mogul last week on charges involving two women.

Vance said the indictment brings Weinstein "another step closer to accountability for the crimes of violence with which he is now charged".

Weinstein is out on $US1 million ($1.32 million) bail.

More than 70 women have accused Weinstein, the co-founder of the Miramax film studio and The Weinstein Co, of sexual misconduct, including rape, with some allegations dating back decades, all of which he has denied.

The accusations gave rise to the #MeToo movement, which has seen hundreds of women publicly accusing powerful men in business, government and entertainment of sexual harassment and abuse.

Brafman backed off and said he "will never use the term casting couch again - not because I think it's inappropriate", but because it's "not my job to defend Hollywood and the movie industry for what it's been accused of the last 25 years or 100 years". Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman and Justin Henry, a spokesman for the prosecutor, confirmed that Weinstein had pleaded not guilty.

The most serious of the charges against Weinstein, first-degree rape, carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison under NY law.

"I said, over and over, 'I don't want to do this, stop, don't, '" Evans told The New Yorker in a story published in October. He was also ordered to wear a Global Positioning System monitoring bracelet and surrender his passport and is only allowed to travel within NY and CT.

Brafman has challenged the credibility of his alleged victims and says his client is confident he is going to clear his name.

He said he believes the two charges are "eminently defensible", and that Weinstein will appear in court again on September 20.

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