Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has asked a New York judge to dismiss multiple sexual assault charges against him, according to a motion filed Friday by his attorney.
In the 159-page motion, Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, argues that the Manhattan district attorney withheld “exculpatory evidence” from a grand jury that indicted the movie mogul, who faces six charges, including rape in the first and third degrees. The motion cites “more than 400 warm, complimentary and solicitous” emails between Weinstein and an unnamed woman accusing him of raping her in 2013.
According to the court filing, the emails were sent between April 2013 and February 2017, a period that followed the alleged rape. The motion includes dozens of emails, including one allegedly sent on February 8, 2017, in which the unnamed woman tells Weinstein, “I love you, always do. But I hate feeling like a booty call.”
A Delaware bankruptcy court granted Brafman permission Thursday to use the emails in his motion as long as he did not name the woman connected to them.
“The motions filed today reflect the first opportunity for Mr. Weinstein to present legal arguments as to why the indictment filed against him should be dismissed,” Brafman said in a statement, adding that “these communications irrefutably reflect the true nature of this consensual intimate friendship, which never at any time included a forcible rape.”
Weinstein was arrested in May and charged with rape, criminal sex act, sexual abuse and sexual misconduct for cases involving two women including the one at the center of the 2013 case. He was indicted again in July, with a Manhattan grand jury voting to charge him with two counts of predatory assault and an additional count of criminal sexual act in the first degree, all related to an encounter with a third woman.
In the motion, Brafman argues that the district attorney “allowed the Grand Jury to hear a sanitized and distorted version of [the accuser’s] true relationship and interactions with” Weinstein, who pleaded not guilty on all charges and has been free since May on $1 million bail.
The motion references mounting “political pressure” against Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose office was criticized and later investigated for its handling of model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez’s 2015 case against Weinstein.
Weinstein’s arrests followed Pulitzer Prize-winning reports in the New York Times and the New Yorker last year that included accounts from multiple women accusing the prominent film producer of sexual assault and harassment. The allegations ended his career and sparked a growing movement against sexual misconduct by powerful men in entertainment and other industries.