“I fucked something disgusting and I did not want to. It happened.”
Those are the words Harvey Weinstein accuser Melissa Thompson wrote to a friend, hours after she alleges she was raped by the former Hollywood mogul in 2011.
“The blackheads. The rolls of fat. The surgery scars. The food stuck in his beard. You cannot even imagine. It was beyond disgusting,” she wrote in an email, obtained by The Daily Beast.
It appears that email chain is at the center of an effort by Weinstein’s legal team to discredit Thompson. The day before a pre-trial hearing in his criminal case to consider whether women may testify against Weinstein, a letter from defense attorney Jose Baez was sent to media outlets including The Daily Beast and USA Today, addressed to Thompson’s attorney, Beth Fegan. It claimed the emails showed Weinstein and Thompson were in a “consensual relationship” and called on Fegan to publicly release them.
“We hope that you will provide the email to us or the press so that Mr. Weinstein can be afforded due process in the courts of law as well as public opinion,” the letter stated.
Thompson declined to provide copies of the emails, but The Daily Beast was able to review them through another source. After publication of this story, an attorney for Baez, Arthur Aidala, reiterated the call for Thompson to publicly release the emails.
Thompson first went public last year when she sued Weinstein as part of a class-action civil lawsuit by several women—which is still being litigated—alleging that he engaged in racketeering and sex trafficking.
She says Weinstein sexually assaulted her after a business meeting in September 2011. She met with Weinstein at the Tribeca offices of The Weinstein Company to pitch her startup company’s new music-analytics service. She recorded the meeting on her laptop and released video last year showing Weinstein touching her and making sexually suggestive remarks, including that he wanted to “have a little part” of her.
Hours later, Thompson alleges, Weinstein overpowered her inside his Tribeca hotel room and raped her. “If I would try to fight myself away from him, he would then move around to a place where he could block me in,” she told Sky News. “I constantly felt trapped, no matter where I turned. He cornered me, over and over again.”
While Baez suggested the emails Thompson sent after the incident would undermine her claims, a source familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast that’s not the case.
“These emails are not exculpatory and do not suggest Ms. Thompson had a consensual relationship with Mr. Weinstein,” the source said. “Ms. Thompson has always maintained she was raped by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein’s attorneys continue to have an obsession with discrediting Ms. Thompson and the release of this letter the day before a key hearing in which Ms. Thompson may have been considered as a witness against Mr. Weinstein in his criminal trial is highly curious, added to the fact that this letter was never sent to her attorney, Ms. Fegan.”
Weinstein’s team did not respond to a request for comment.
Last year, representatives for Weinstein drew up a dossier on Thompson broken up into three parts: “The Good,” “The Bad,” and “The Ugly.” The document, reviewed by The Daily Beast, was drafted by Holly Baird of Weinstein’s former public-relations firm, Sitrick and Company. Baird sent the document to Weinstein, his former New York criminal-defense attorney Ben Brafman, and Weinstein’s Los Angeles defense attorney, Blair Berk.
The document discussed how Thompson’s video could be positioned to help Weinstein while also painting her as someone who was being overly flirtatious with the former Hollywood producer in order to seal a commercial deal. (Thompson’s company, Intercast Network, went on later to ink a deal with The Weinstein Company to assist with marketing for The Iron Lady.)
“What you have is a confidentially prepared document drawn up by a previous communications team alone,” said Juda Engelmayer, spokesperson for Weinstein’s attorneys. “It was simply intended to prepare Mr. Weinstein for the coverage following the release of Ms. Thompson’s video. It was not meant, nor it used for, media or public consumption.”
The email analysis starts with the heading “The Good” for Weinstein and focuses on Thompson’s behavior. “You can see that they are flirting back and forth in the video- she even touches/strokes his arm. This footage may be used to question all the interactions with the other ‘victims.’ – He isn’t being forceful – or throwing anyone down to the ground.”
It continues by saying Weinstein thought the interaction was appropriate because Thompson didn’t say “no.”
In “The Bad” for Weinstein, the document notes Thompson may be a sympathetic figure as she was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer and had recently given birth to a girl. Thompson went on to champion and help pass a bill that prevents insurance companies from discriminating against cancer patients who need coverage for fertility treatment.
“She is a breast cancer survivor and has a bill named after her for her advocacy and success in changing healthcare policy for breast cancer survivors and insurance claims with fertility treatments,” the email said.
In the final category, “The Ugly,” the email blames Thompson for waiting to report what allegedly happened.
“Years later, she says this is sexual assault and that he used his position of power and took advantage of her. After going into a meeting, allowing whatever to happen in order to get the deal done.”
Mike Sitrick, founder of Sitrick and Company, said the document was prepared in response to a media inquiry from the website The Blast. “The email was only sent to the people to whom the email was addressed,” Sitrick said in a statement. “Ms. Baird, to this day, has never seen the video mentioned in the email. Her summary and characterization was based on the information shared with her by the reporter.”
Fegan, Thompson’s attorney, called the document “vile.”
“It seems to me a dirt file. It’s certainly Weinstein’s M.O. to attack women’s credibility, but the collective sharing of the stories and experiences that these women had with Weinstein have demonstrated that he engaged in a pattern of abuse.”
Weinstein has previously attempted to smear the credibility of his accusers by using an army of spies including corporate intelligence firm Black Cube, high-powered lawyers, and even journalists who helped compile dirt files on victims of sexual assault.
Gloria Allred, who represents one of Weinstein’s alleged victims, Mimi Haleyi, who is part of the criminal trial, says such files on victims and negative information released to the media, smearing accusers, can create a “chilling effect” on women coming forward.
“Many, many accusers were afraid to report originally and may be still for fear of retaliation in the entertainment business since they felt he was very powerful and could impact future career opportunities.
“Fear is the main weapon that keeps these victims silent.”
Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who reported Weinstein sexually assaulted her to police in 2015, told The Daily Beast about the damage smears in the press did to her.
“It was scary to know somebody had the power to spread false accusations of me being a blackmailer. They spread a dirt file on me that made me look like I was trying to do that for money and that wasn’t true.”