HE SAID, THEY SAID
Prosecutors Punch Back at Harvey Weinstein: Your ‘Exculpatory’ Emails Don’t Deny Rape Charge
The movie mogul accused Manhattan’s district attorney of withholding messages from an accuser that supposedly prove he didn’t victimize her. The D.A. threw the messages right back.
Manhattan prosecutors pushed back Wednesday against accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein’s claims that they kept exculpatory evidence from a grand jury.
The disgraced movie mogul faces charges in Manhattan for allegedly non-consensual sexual encounters with three women, including one accuser who has not been identified publicly.
Prosecutors' new filings come in response to motions filed Aug. 3 by Weinstein's lawyers, in which they push for dismissal arguing, in part, that exculpatory emails were kept from grand jurors.
Weinstein’s lawyers have contended that messages exchanged with one alleged victim over a four-year period clash with her accusation that he raped her in March 2013.
“For example, on February 8, 2017, [the accuser] emailed Mr. Weinstein saying ‘I love you, always do. But I hate feeling like a booty call. :),’” his lawyers had claimed the woman wrote.
“These emails, we submit, confirm the highly relevant fact that the relationship between [the accuser] and Mr. Weinstein was both consensual and intimate; importantly, particular emails sent to Mr. Weinstein by [the accuser] could also be reasonably understood to reflect [her] intention that she wanted the relationship to be deeper,” they maintained in their filing last month.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office counters that if the court were to review grand jury minutes, it would be clear that “the grand jury was properly instructed on the law, and that the integrity of the proceedings was unimpaired, and the People deny all allegations to the contrary…”
“The first ground of defendant’s motion to dismiss is his claim that the prosecution had an obligation to present to the grand jury various email exchanges between defendant and the victim of certain of the charged crimes,” prosecutors wrote in court papers. “Defendant does not allege, because he cannot, that any of the emails contain a denial of the charged rape.”
“Rather, defendant claims that, at most, the emails could suggest a state of mind inconsistent with what defendant feels should be that of a rape victim,” prosecutors further argue. “Most importantly, a review of the Grand jury minutes in this case will reveal, the People presented evidence fairly and in a manner that was not misleading by providing a full and fair account of the relationship between defendant and the victim both before and after the charged rape.”
“Defendant’s motion to dismiss on this ground is without legal or factual support, and should be denied,” they contended.
Weinstein's lawyers had also challenged whether prosecutors presented enough evidence to the grand jury relating to his alleged victims: Mimi Haleyi, Lucia Evans, and the unidentified third woman.
Prosecutors said in their filing that if the court were to review grand jury minutes, the documentation “will show that the evidence presented amply supported the charges in question and that defendant’s motion should accordingly be denied.”
Weinstein was initially charged in May with rape in the first and third degrees, and criminal sexual act in the first degree, in relation to allegedly forced encounters in 2013 and 2014.
The Manhattan District Attorney then announced on July 2 that a grand jury hit Weinstein with yet another count of criminal sexual act in the first degree in relation to a third accuser, in addition to two counts of predatory sexual assault.
Weinstein, who has been out on $1 million bail, maintains his innocence.
Prosecutors’ fillings come several hours after Sky News made public a video which purported to show Weinstein behaving flirting and touching a businesswoman who was pitching him on a proposal in 2011. Hours after the meeting, Melissa Thompson says Weinstein raped her at a nearby hotel. Thompson is not involved in the criminal case against him.
Benjamin Brafman, who’s defending Weinstein, said of the footage that “the video, when viewed in its entirety, in context and not in select excerpts, demonstrates that there is nothing forceful, but casual – if not awkward – flirting from both parties. Anything short of that is intended to make Mr. Weinstein appear inappropriate, and even exploitative.”