Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty to rape, criminal sex charges; due back in court in September

LOWER MANHATTAN — His case may end up representing Hollywood’s greatest fall from grace, but on Tuesday, at Harvey Weinstein’s arraignment, the potential fall that was most prominently on the minds of people who saw him was a literal one.

With a visible limp and pallid face, Weinstein looked unstable.

Nonetheless, he and his legal team, led by his main attorney, Benjamin Brafman, made it into the courthouse, and went up to the 13th floor courtroom. Unexpectedly, before entering, Weinstein had to use the men’s room. Still, he went before the bench right at the appointed time of 10 a.m.

Minutes later, the fallen movie mogul said the only two words he would utter in public all day. “Not guilty,” he said, in a very low voice, when asked to enter a plea.

The statement was made in response to some serious charges Weinstein faces, including criminal sexual act and rape.

“As reprehensible a crime as rape is, it is equally reprehensible to be falsely accused of rape," Brafman said, both in court and at a news conference afterward. “Since Mr. Weinstein has denied these allegations, that's where we are. In his view, he has been falsely accused of rape.”

Brafman also talked about his legal strategy, going forward.

“We are going to file a series of legal motions that will give us more information,” the high-profile attorney told the dozens of journalists from around the world assembled at the courthouse steps.

“If we are successful, there may not be a trial," Brafman said.

The criminal case involves two women accusers, one of whom, Lucia Evans, has gone public to say Weinstein sexually abused her. The other woman has remained anonymous, but Brafman said in court that in the course of compiling evidence to defend Weinstein, the other accuser's name will most likely have to be named in a subpoena.

Brafman also said that Weinstein has “people coming out of the woodwork to make statements in support” of the 66-year-old former movie studio head.

The support, according to Brafman, is helping his client's mood.

“Under the circumstances, he's holding up reasonably well," Brafman said.

One surprise in the gallery at court was Gloria Allred. The lawyer who's become a celebrity in her own right by representing female sex crime survivors created a buzz, in part because she's not even part of the criminal case.

“The purpose of my being here today is to observe Mr. Weinstein,” Allred told reporters after the hearing.

She represents women suing Weinstein in unrelated civil cases.

More important, she said, was a message to women who may have been exploited by Weinstein.

“This is the window of opportunity,” Allred said. “This is a key period. They should come forward now.”

She encouraged women to call police, or to seek legal advice. Allred also pointed out that her services are available.

Weinstein’s next court appearance is scheduled for September 20.