Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is seeking the dismissal of sexual assault charges against him based on dozens of “warm” and “solicitous” emails he received from his accusers.
Lawyers for the 66-year-old filed a motion on Friday (local time) claiming prosecutors failed to present correspondence which showed Mr Weinstein was in a “consensual relationship” with at least one of his accusers.
Mr Weinstein was arrested and charged in Manhattan in May with rape in the first and third degree and a criminal sexual act in the first degree.
In their motion, lawyers for the Miramax co-founder argue the emails one accuser sent to Mr Weinstein in the years after the alleged 2013 attack – including a message which read ‘I love you’ – refute the charges against him.
“These communications irrefutably reflect the true nature of this consensual intimate friendship, which never at any time included a forcible rape,” Mr Weinstein’s lawyer Ben Brafman told CNN in a statement.
Mr Weinstein was considered one of the most powerful men in Hollywood after producing films such as Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love and Good Will Hunting, before The New York Times and New Yorker published an October 2017 report which contained accusations of assault, harassment and rape from a dozen women.
He has denied the charges, maintaining his innocence, and remains out of the public eye after posting bail set at $US1 million ($1.3 million).
In their motion, Mr Weinstein’s lawyers argue the accuser made requests to see him and wanted a deeper relationship with him which was “inconsistent” with her allegations of rape in 2013.
“These emails, we submit, confirm the highly relevant fact that the relationship between [the accuser] and Mr Weinstein was both consensual and intimate,” his lawyers wrote.
“Importantly, particular emails sent to Mr Weinstein by [the accuser] could also be reasonably understood to reflect [her] intention that she wanted the relationship to be deeper.”
In one email from February 2017, the accuser tells Mr Weinstein: “I love you, always do. But I hate feeling like a booty call :)”.
His lawyers claim these emails were crucial evidence that was withheld from the Grand Jury.
“By using the term ‘booty call,’ the complaining witness appears to acknowledge the consensual, intimate nature of her relationship with Mr Weinstein and perhaps, most importantly, signalled her desire for a fuller and more emotionally committed relationship.”
Prosecutors will respond to these arguments at a later date. Authorities in Los Angeles and London are also investigating sexual assault allegations against him.
In the wake of the allegations, Mr Weinstein was fired from his production company, suspended from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and resigned from the Directors Guild of America.
Ebony Bowden contributed reporting from New York City.