Weinstein moves to have sex assault charges dismissed

Emails reveal ‘consensual’ relationship between accuser and disgraced movie mogul

Harvey Weinstein at his arraignment in New York on July 9th. The accusations against him led to the #MeToo movement. Photograph: Jefferson Siegel/The Daily News via AP

Harvey Weinstein at his arraignment in New York on July 9th. The accusations against him led to the #MeToo movement. Photograph: Jefferson Siegel/The Daily News via AP


Film producer Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers asked a New York judge on Friday to dismiss rape and sexual assault charges against him, releasing emails between one of his accusers and Weinstein they said were not revealed to the grand jury that indicted him.

Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone following accusations by more than 70 women. These comprise mostly young actresses and other women employed in the movie business and the allegations consist of sexual misconduct, including rape, dating back decades.

Weinstein’s lawyers said the emails showed “a long-term, consensual, intimate relationship” between Weinstein and an unnamed woman who has accused him of raping her in 2013.

His lawyers said they meant “not to ignore that rape can occur in relationships”. But they say that prosecutors should have shown the grand jurors the emails in order for them to make an “informed decision”.

The woman and Weinstein communicated over a four-year period after the date she said he raped her, said Weinstein’s lawyers.

A spokesman for Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, who is prosecuting the case, declined to comment on the motion.

The case against Weinstein (66) in Manhattan involves three women. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and is free on $1 million (€860,000) bail.

Weinstein lawyer Benjamin Brafman said the motions “reveal the existence of exculpatory evidence”.

The accusations against Weinstein led to the #MeToo movement in which hundreds of women publicly accuse powerful men in business, politics and entertainment of sexual harassment and abuse.

His lawyers said charges against him in New York involving two other women were flawed and must be dismissed as well. One involves a former actress who said he forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004. The other is a former production assistant who said he performed oral sex on her against her will in 2006.

Weinstein’s lawyers said the charges relating to the former actress failed to provide enough detail because they did not say exactly when the assault happened, instead giving a three-month range.

Prosecutors failed to give Weinstein adequate advance notice that they were presenting the “far more serious charges” to the grand jury of the allegation from 2006, said his lawyers.

The former production assistant’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, said – in response to Weinstein’s motion to dismiss – that the grand jury “would not have indicted him if they did not find the testimony that they heard credible”.

As accusations against Weinstein mounted, his company Weinstein Co fired him and filed for bankruptcy and he was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Through his company and Miramax, Weinstein won plaudits and awards for movies including Shakespeare in Love, Pulp Fiction and The King’s Speech. – Reuters