A New York judge on Thursday refused to dismiss sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood movie mogul who came to symbolize the #MeToo movement which exposed sexual harassment by powerful men against women in the workplace.
Weinstein's lawyers had sought to get the charges dismissed, claiming that the case against him was "irreparably tainted" by a police detective who allegedly coached a potential witness and one of the accusers. Prosecutors said there was plenty of evidence to proceed with the case.
Judge James Burke denied the defense request and set the next hearing in the case for March 7.
"We are obviously disappointed that the charges were not dismissed today," said Weinstein's lawyer, Ben Brafman. He predicted that Weinstein, who faces life imprisonment if convicted, will be "completely exonerated."
Weinstein, 66, who faces five charges linked to an alleged rape in March 2013 and a forced act of oral sex in 2006, has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. More than 80 women have accused him of sexual misconduct.
After allegations against the powerful movie producer first surfaced, dozens of women throughout the U.S. made their own public accusations of sexual abuse against men in their lives, often bosses in the corporate world, the media and academia.
As the MeToo movement took hold, powerful men across the country were forced to apologize for their actions, with many of them resigning or being fired from their positions.