A judge decided Tuesday that Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers will be able to discuss alleged “loving” emails some of the movie producer’s accusers sent him. The lawyers will use these emails during opening statements of Weinstein’s rape and sexual-assault trial to claim that these women were in consensual relationships with Weinstein. Weinstein’s defense team contends that these women “bragged” about sexual encounters with him.
Justice James Burke’s decision stemmed from a dispute over how Weinstein’s lawyers wanted to use these emails during their initial defense of the disgraced movie producer. Weinstein lawyer Damon Cheronis said, “These emails could not be more relevant,” claiming that they undermine allegations of nonconsensual sex.
“What we will counter with are their own words, their own words where they described loving relationships,” Cheronis told Burke. “Where they refer to him as somebody they care about both before and after these alleged sexual assaults.” Cheronis also said, “Witnesses who claimed Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted them also bragged about being involved in sexual relationships with him … they bragged about these things he allegedly ‘forced’ them to do.”
Cheronis also said that the accusers came out “years later” and made these relationships “look forced,” maintaining that these women had a “much different view of the relationships” when they actually took place. “The state cannot weave a story of power, and anger, and sexual assault, and think that we cannot counter that by showing every single communication between complaining witnesses and Harvey undercuts that argument,” Cheronis told Burke. One of the “dozens and dozens and dozens” of emails included one showing that an accuser wanted “to introduce him to her mother,” Cheronis continued.
“The court will not prevent the defense from stating what the complainants told the defendant in emails,” Burke said. “It’s consistent with allowing the defense, the defendant, to put forward his plainly stated legitimate defense, namely, that the sexual activity was consensual and that is consistent with his constitutional right” to defend himself.
Meanwhile, a state appeals court on Tuesday denied Weinstein’s last ditch attempt to move his trial outside of New York City. Opening statements in Weinstein’s rape and sexual-assault case start Wednesday morning. As he left court this morning, a slow-moving Weinstein was asked if he was worried. He shook his head.
Update, February 24: Harvey Weinstein’s verdict has been announced.