The woman accusing Harvey Weinstein of raping her in 2013 was in a ten year consensual sexual relationship with the embattled movie mogul, according to Weinstein’s lawyer, who said the relationship continued after the alleged attack.
“This is an extraordinary case in my judgment, where the only rape victim that Mr. Weinstein is accused of raping, is someone who he has had a 10-year consensual sexual relationship with both before the alleged incident, and after the alleged incident,” Benjamin Brafman said on Tuesday after a closed-door meeting with the judge overseeing the case.
In his opinion, Brafman added, the charge was “absurd.”
Brafman and prosecutors have not identified the woman by name.
A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office declined to comment.
Weinstein was arrested on Friday. Police say he forced one woman to give him oral sex during a casting meeting at his TriBeCa office in 2004, and raped a second woman at a midtown Manhattan hotel in 2013, according to the criminal complaint.
"This defendant used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he could violate them sexually," Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said at Weinstein’s arraignment.
In October, an investigation by the New York Times found that, over the years, Weinstein paid at least eight women to stay silent after they accused him of sexual harassment or unwanted sexual contact, while the New Yorker reported that 13 women accused Weinstein of sexually harassing or assaulting them since the 1990s, including the actress Asia Argento and a women named Lucia Evans.
Brafman spoke late Tuesday morning after he and Illuzzi had a secret 1½-hour long meeting with the judge overseeing the case, Judge James Burke. The case had not been scheduled to be called, but Brafman said he asked for a hearing because he was worried public pressure would infect the case.
“There is a confluence of concerns that make me concerned that it’s going to be difficult for people who are judging this case to keep an open mind and be fair,” he said.
"I also think that pressure that is being brought to bear on the District Attorney's office demanding that an indictment or a prosecution of Mr. Weinstein proceed is inappropriate pressure, it is unprecedented, and it troubles me," Brafman, shown in the photo below, added.
“I wanted to make those matters known to the court."
When asked for more details about what went on behind the closed court doors, Brafman demurred, saying that he couldn’t say much else because Judge Burke had ordered that a transcript of the proceeding be sealed. This is required by New York law because grand jury proceedings are underway.
Weinstein has been accused by affidavit. While a grand jury is hearing evidence in the case, it has not yet issued an indictment charging Weinstein with any crime. Under New York law, grand juries have six months to act.
Weinstein, who has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex, has until tomorrow to decide whether he wants to testify at that proceeding. On Tuesday, Brafman declined to say whether that decision had been made.
Still, Brafman said, “I think at the end of the day Mr. Weinstein will be exonerated of these charges.”
In the meantime, Weinstein is free on $1 million bail, supervised by an ankle bracelet. He is not allowed to travel outside of New York or Connecticut without prior permission from the court.
[Photos: JB Nicholas]