Lawyer: Weinstein had long relationship with rape accuser
NEW YORK (AP) — The woman who has accused Harvey Weinstein of rape in his criminal case was in a decade-long relationship with him that continued after the alleged attack in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013, a lawyer for the film producer said Tuesday.
Attorney Benjamin Brafman made the remark after meeting behind closed doors with prosecutors and a New York judge Tuesday over defense concerns about whether Weinstein can get a fair trial.
The criminal case revolves around two women, only one of whom, the former actress Lucia Evans, has gone public with her story of being forced to perform oral sex on Weinstein at his office in 2004.
Prosecutors haven’t identified the second accuser, who told investigators Weinstein confined her in a hotel room and raped her.
Brafman said he also wouldn’t identify the woman by name, but speaking to reporters outside a Manhattan courthouse, said she was “someone with whom he has had a 10-year consensual, sexual relationship, both before the alleged incident and after the alleged incident.”
Brafman called the allegation “serious on its face, but when you drill down on it, it is in my opinion also absurd.”
He added that the woman who made the rape claim was not Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, who married him in 2007 and filed for divorce after the scandal broke last fall.
Prosecutors left court without commenting. The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assaults without their consent.
Weinstein, 66, surrendered last week and was led into court in handcuffs to face rape and criminal sex acts charges involving the two women. The once-powerful Hollywood figure, who is free on $1 million bail, did not appear in court Tuesday. He has consistently denied having nonconsensual sex with anyone.
Brafman said that he was limited in what he could say about the 90-minute conference Tuesday in the chambers of Judge James Burke because a transcript of it was sealed. But he said he was worried about the impact the wave of bad publicity about his client could have on a grand jury that’s hearing the case under Burke’s supervision.
Brafman also claimed the Manhattan District’s Attorney’s office is under “inappropriate” and “unprecedented” pressure to pursue the prosecution. He said Weinstein expects to be exonerated if the case goes to trial.
“You can only imagine what your state of mind would be if you were accused of a very serious crime that you maintain you didn’t commit,” he said. “So it’s a terrible state of mind in that regard, but he’s confident he’s going to clear his name.”
There were rumors in Hollywood for years about Weinstein’s pursuit of young actresses. And in 2015, an Italian model went to New York City police and accused him of groping her during a meeting.
Police set up a sting in which the woman recorded herself confronting Weinstein. But Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. decided not to bring charges, citing a lack of evidence.
The Democratic prosecutor came under public pressure from women’s groups to prosecute Weinstein this time in the wake of more recent allegations of sexual misconduct against him by dozens of women.
Until the scandal, Weinstein was among the most influential forces in American film. Companies he co-founded, Miramax and the Weinstein Co., were behind such hits as “Pulp Fiction,” ″Shakespeare in Love” and “The King’s Speech.”