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In a story almost too sadly cliche, a famous producer has been accused of sexually assaulting a beautiful young girl.
Harvey Weinstein, movie mogul and co-founder of Miramax, is accused of groping a 22-year-old model. Weinstein and the model first met at the red-carpet premiere of Weinstein's New York Spring Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. The two made plans for the model to come to Weinstein's office the next day for an audition.
According to reports, while at the office, Weinstein allegedly asked the model if her breasts were real before reaching out and testing them himself. The model then claims that he reached his hand up her skirt and asked for a kiss. The distressed model fled Weinstein's office and reported the incident to the police soon after.
Weinstein has been questioned by the police. He went in voluntarily,
but soon ended the questioning, asking for time to see his lawyer. He
has not been arrested or charged with any crime yet. It is up to the Manhattan District Attorney to decide to file charges or not.
What could Weinstein be charged with?
New York Penal Law section 130.55, sexual abuse in the third degree, states, "A person is guilty of sexual abuse in the third degree when he or she subjects another person to sexual contact without the latter's consent." Section 130.00 of the code defines sexual contact as "any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person not married to the actor for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire ... whether directly or through clothing."
Let's assume for a moment that the allegations are true. Mr. Weinstein touched the model's breasts. He could argue that he didn't do it to gratify a sexual desire; he had a business interest in determining if her breasts were real. The argument could then be made that contact was not sexual in nature and he might not be guilty of sexual abuse.
It's unlikely that argument would will stand though, since he then allegedly for a kiss and did not have any kind of consent from the woman herself. What's the business purpose in that?
Sexual abuse in the third degree is a class B misdemeanor. If charged and convicted Weinstein could face a maximum of three months in jail.
Even if Weinstein could argue his way out of sexual abuse in the third degree, he may still have to contend with a forcible touching charge. Section 130.52 of New York Penal law states, "A person is guilty of forcible touching when such person intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person; or for the purpose of gratifying the actor's sexual desire."
Weinstein could argue again, even if he did touch the woman, that his purpose was not to degrade, abuse, or gratify his sexual desire. However, he does not have to prove that his purposes were innocent. It is up to the prosecution to prove that he had necessary bad intent.
Forcible touching is a class A misdemeanor. If convicted, Weinstein could be sentenced to up to one year in jail.
The District Attorney's office is still investigating the incident. We will have to wait to see if prosecutors can find enough evidence to substantiate the model's claims and charge Mr. Weinstein.