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This morning disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein surrendered to police in Lower Manhattan after a seven-month investigation. More than 50 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct of various kinds. As NPR's Neda Ulaby reports, Weinstein was charged with first- and third-degree rape and a first degree criminal sex act.
NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Weinstein arrived at the first precinct in TriBeCa today surrounded by a phalanx of police and a throng of shouting reporters. The former movie mogul walked slowly with a slight but obvious limp. He wore a dark suit, a blue sweater. A famously big man, Weinstein looked frail, diminished.
JODI KANTOR: To be fair, he looked like that when we were investigating him last summer as well.
ULABY: Jodi Kantor helped break the Harvey Weinstein story for The New York Times last fall. Standing outside the courtroom, she said once Weinstein was synonymous with this neighborhood's glamour.
KANTOR: This was a king of TriBeCa. This guy helped make TriBeCa the cool and expensive neighborhood that it is today. So seeing him go to that police precinct and turn himself in and then show up in this courthouse just a few blocks away was very, very symbolic.
ULABY: Symbolic of how someone who faced no consequences for actions that allegedly occurred for decades gave up his passport, posted $1 million bail and was fitted with a tracking device. After the hearing, Weinstein's lawyer Benjamin Brafman staunchly defended his client.
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BENJAMIN BRAFMAN: Mr. Weinstein will enter a plea of not guilty.
ULABY: Brafman said he did not believe evidence supports the charges against Weinstein of rape and sexual abuse.
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BRAFMAN: Many of these allegations are long overdue, quite frankly, having been made about events that are alleged to have occurred many years ago.
ULABY: The statute of limitations is just one way the Weinstein case is helping to transform legal conversations, says Jennifer Drobac. The law professor at Indiana University has been following cases like Weinstein's. She says more lawmakers are considering extending the amount of time that victims should have to report crimes against them - particularly when they were young when the crimes occurred.
JENNIFER DROBAC: They really may not realize how badly they were damaged. They may not realize the full career implications. They may not be able to get over their fear and hesitation to come forward.
ULABY: That's what happened with Lucia Evans, one of Weinstein's alleged victims. She was represented in today's charges, according to The New Yorker. Evans says Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex in 2004 when she was in college. It took her years to come forward. After allegations against Bill Cosby, California ended the statute of limitations for rape cases going forward. Actress Rose McGowan says she was assaulted by Harvey Weinstein in 1997. Today, she went on "Good Morning America" to discuss his arrest.
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ROSE MCGOWAN: I have to admit I didn't think I would see the day that he would have handcuffs on him.
ULABY: Back outside the courtroom, reporter Jodi Kantor said she'd spoken with many other alleged victims. She said the reaction was mixed.
KANTOR: A lot of people found it overwhelming - had trouble sleeping last night. Some people were really relieved and felt joy. Other people continue to feel feelings of loss.
ULABY: But one thing they all shared, Kantor said, was a sense that this morning was momentous.
KANTOR: The feeling that this guy had his private justice system - or non-justice system for a long time. He had these fancy lawyers who settled with women to silence them. He had these private investigators and spies who worked for him. And now, he has to answer to the same justice system as the rest of us.
ULABY: And not just in Manhattan. Harvey Weinstein is still under criminal investigation in three other cities - Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and London. Neda Ulaby, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.