Weinstein Releases Emails Suggesting Long Relationship With Accuser
Posted August 3, 2018 8:09 p.m. EDT
Updated August 3, 2018 8:12 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK — The attorney for Harvey Weinstein accused the Manhattan district attorney’s office on Friday of withholding hundreds of emails from the grand jury that suggest the producer’s relationship with a woman accusing him of rape was consensual and lasted for years after the alleged attack.
Weinstein has been indicted on charges that he raped the woman, who has not been identified, at a Midtown hotel in March 2013. He is also charged with physically forcing two other women to engage in oral sex with him, one in his TriBeCa office in 2004 and a second at his apartment in 2006.
His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, argued in a motion filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan that the charges should be dismissed. The motion included dozens of emails between the accuser and Weinstein that suggest the “relationship was both consensual and intimate,” Brafman wrote.
The woman accused Weinstein, 66, of trapping her inside a hotel room at the Doubletree Inn on Lexington Avenue and forcing himself on her. The former movie mogul faces six counts, including rape, criminal sexual act and predatory sexual assault, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Danny Frost, a spokesman for Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, declined to comment on Brafman’s contention the grand jury should have been shown the emails before they voted to indict. Grand jury proceedings are secret, and it remains unclear whether the jurors were aware of the correspondence.
In legal terms, rape can — and often does — occur in consensual relationships, such as an abusive marriage.
James A. Cohen, a professor of law at Fordham University, said he doubted the emails would derail the case against Weinstein because, he said, jurors will understand that “people say things in the moment that they don’t particularly mean.”
Still, the emails will present hurdles for prosecutors. If the judge does not throw out the indictment, Brafman may use the correspondence at trial to raise questions about the accuser’s credibility.
The move to release the emails in the court motion to dismiss the indictment fits in with Weinstein’s past tactics to beat back accusations. He has often used photographs, emails and letters to argue his accusers were friendly with him after allegations of assaults.
According to the defense motion, the woman sent Weinstein hundreds of emails after March 18, 2013, the day prosecutors say Weinstein forced her to have sex with him.
“I hope to see you sooner rather than later,” one email to him on April 11, 2013, read.
The next day she wrote, “I appreciate all you do for me, it shows.”
On April 17, she wrote, “It would be great to see you later and catch up.”
Five months later, the woman sent an email that read: “Miss you Big Guy.”
Weinstein’s attorney said in the motion that it appeared the woman wanted the relationship to be deeper, and highlighted an email on Feb. 8, 2017, in which the woman, referred to in court records as CW-1, wrote, “I love you, always do. But hate feeling like a booty call. :).”
In another email exchange, the woman was making arrangements to link up with Weinstein one evening in 2014. She told the movie producer that she could see him, adding that her mother was with her and would “love to meet him.”
Over the years, the woman also emailed Weinstein asking that he sponsor her for a club membership in SoHo, and help her with car problems and wrote about a search for permanent housing.
Brafman said in the court papers that in late May he sought to delay the grand jury proceedings in order to obtain copies of the emails, which were being held as evidence in a bankruptcy proceeding in Delaware involving Weinstein’s company. Vance’s office, he said, turned down the request and pushed ahead a grand jury vote on the indictment.
Manhattan Criminal Court Judge James Burke will review the motion.
Brafman said in an interview that the emails support Weinstein’s claim that his relationship with the woman was consensual.
“It’s hard for me to believe that the grand jury would have indicted Mr. Weinstein for the crime of rape if they had the opportunity to read these emails and confront the alleged victim with her own words that completely undermine any claim of a forcible sexual encounter,” Brafman said.
Prosecutors also accuse Weinstein of forcing Lucia Evans, a former actress who works as a marketing executive, to perform oral sex on him at a casting meeting in his office in 2004, and of compelling Mimi Haleyi, a television production assistant, to allow him to perform oral sex when she visited his SoHo apartment on business in 2006. Both women have spoken publicly to reporters about their experiences.
In court papers, Brafman argued that those cases, too, should be dismissed because they are too old and lack forensic evidence. He asserted the evidence that Weinstein used force or threats to get his way in those cases is weak and argued the grand jury would have given the accusations less credence if they had known of the emails from the woman accusing his client of rape.
Weinstein is free on $1 million bail.
In the last nine months, more than 80 women, including actresses Rose McGowan and Annabella Sciorra, have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault either in hotel rooms or at his offices.
The flood of accusations spurred a global movement of women who have since come forward with accounts of being sexually harassed and assaulted in the workplace by their bosses and men in power.