NEW YORK: Harvey Weinstein's defense lawyer on Friday demanded that a New York court dismiss the sex crimes charges against him, explosively disclosing dozens of intimate emails between the disgraced Hollywood tycoon and his alleged rape victim, in which she said "I love you."
Ben Brafman, one of America's most celebrated defense attorneys who helped former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn escape criminal prosecution for alleged sexual assault in 2011, called for the entire indictment against Weinstein to be dismissed, based on the emails and a series of technicalities.
The 66-year-old former Tinseltown titan is out on bail and has pleaded not guilty to six counts allegedly committed against three women in 2004, 2006 and 2013. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for September 20.
His arrest and arraignments have led #MeToo campaigners to hope that the twice-married father of five -- whom nearly 100 women have publicly accused of sexual misconduct -- will be put on trial, convicted and sent to prison.
But Brafman's explosive filing demanded that the indictment "be dismissed at the pre-trial stage because it is legally infirm," saying that the district attorney's failure to present the emails had tainted the process.
Messages sent in the weeks, months and even years after the alleged 2013 rape showed that Weinstein and the woman were in a "long-term, consensual, intimate relationship" that never once referred to an assault, Brafman claimed.
"Hope you are well and call me anytime, always good to hear your voice," she allegedly wrote to him in August 2013, five months after the claimed assault.
"I was so happy you saw me today!" the woman apparently said that October. In January 2014, the defense quoted her as writing: "Your [sic] the one who makes it look good with your smile and beautiful eyes!!"
Some of the messages appeared even more intimate. "There is no one else I would enjoy catching up with that understands me quite like you," she purportedly wrote to Weinstein in July 2014.
In another exchange, she wrote to say: "Just had u cross my mind and thought u would send a hello."
When Weinstein apparently replied: "Love to cross your mind it's my favorite exercise," she answered: "Lol that made me laugh so hard."
- 'Booty call' -
"I love you, always do. But I hate feeling like a booty call. :)," she apparently emailed Weinstein in February 2017.
Messages appeared to show her arranging to meet up with Weinstein, looking forward to introducing him to her mother, making contact when she needed help securing a job and seeking comfort when her father was ill, Brafman said.
The defense lawyer accused Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance of acting in haste, caving under "unprecedented" pressure to indict Weinstein, having been investigated for failing to prosecute him for an alleged groping incident in 2015.
Brafman also sought to undermine the allegation of forced oral sex 14 years ago, saying that the alleged victim in that instance does not remember when it happened, only "sometime" between June and September of that year.
"Mr Weinstein categorically denies that he had non-consensual sex with any person, and specifically the three accusers in the pending indictment," he wrote in the 159-page filing, that included 30 exhibits of emails.
Brafman said the dozens of emails should not have been kept from the grand jury that returned the indictments against the former producer.
"The district attorney's failure to fairly present an accurate and complete presentation of the evidence infected the entire grand jury proceeding and subsequent indictment," Brafman argued.
Vance's office did not immediately respond to an AFP request to comment.
Weinstein is facing two counts of predatory sexual assault and two counts of criminal sexual act, as well as rape in the first and third degree.
He risks being jailed for life if put on trial and convicted of the most serious charge against him, predatory sexual assault.
His career imploded in October in a blaze of accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse from dozens of women that triggered a major reckoning about harassment in the workplace and the #MeToo movement.