NEW YORK – producer Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault by about 80 women, making him the catalyst of the movement #MeToo and the face of sexual predation.
Criminal investigations have been opened against him in New York, Los Angeles and London, but for the moment, only three allegations of attacks on three different women, have resulted in a charge, all in New York: a rape in march 2013 and two blowjobs forced in 2004 and 2006, which could see him sentenced to life in prison.
Most of the allegations against him fall under the statute of limitations, but Mr. Weinstein is also the subject of a civil lawsuit by women who claim damages and interest. A conviction of a criminal would facilitate their repair request.
The producer stripped has always said that the relationship he had had was consensual.
If it’s treated as a pariah for months, its main and famous lawyer, Ben Brafman – who has obtained the dismissal of charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the case of the Sofitel in 2011 -, has, in a few hearings and motions filed in court, revealed some of the arguments he would use to release his client from the clutches of justice. Here are the main.
“Promotion sofa”, the system Hollywood
Harvey Weinstein is just one of the many orchestrators of a system take precedence “promotion sofa,” said Ben Brafman when the indictment of his client in may.
“Mr. Weinstein has not invented the “promotion couch” in Hollywood,” he said. “If there has been bad behaviour in this industry, this is not what it is. These are not bad behaviors that are judged in this story, but of criminal acts committed intentionally, and Mr. Weinstein has always denied this”.
Mr. Brafman seemed to say that Mr. Weinstein may have had “an inappropriate behavior, and that this is still some way acceptable,” said the lawyer, criminal Julie Rendelman.
About us “polarized”, according to her, who, in the midst of an era #MeToo, have earned numerous critical to the well-known lawyer.
“If he wants to convince a jury one day, I think he will avoid such comments in the future,” adds Ms. Rendelman.
The rights of the defence ignored
In early August, Ben Brafman has filed dozens of e-mails exchanged between Harvey Weinstein and the woman who accused him of rape. These exchanges seem to indicate that they had a loving relationship followed. To the point that the prosecution would have sought to introduce the producer to his mother a year after the alleged rape, weakening the idea of forced sexual intercourse.
On the basis of these emails, Mr. Brafman calls for the abandonment of the prosecution, a request that the judge in charge of the dossier should be determined at a hearing on 8 November.
The lawyer believes that the fact that the prosecutor has not shown these exchanges to the “grand jury” popular, met behind closed doors to confirm that the evidence was sufficient to indict Mr. Weinstein, infringes on the rights of the defence.
Nobody knows, however, what has been presented to the grand jury, because its debates are secret. The prosecutor is actually required to share with the defence the evidence that could exculpate the accused, but not necessarily as early as the stage of the grand jury, ” says Bennett Gershman, a former prosecutor and law professor at Pace university in New York.
According to the prosecutor, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, there is nothing in the emails contradicts the accusations of rape.
Credibility of the victims
The fact remains that these emails, which touched on the key issue of consent and the credibility of the victims, are “the most prominent currently,” says lawyer Julie Rendelman.
Even if the judge decides that the prosecutor was not required to take part from the outset, Mr. Brafman, these exchanges may help to “support the thesis of the defense” according to which relations with these women were consensual, said Bennett Gershman.
Even though “a person can obviously have a bond granted and suffer despite everything, a rape,” the e-mails may undermine the credibility of the accusatory, ” says dr. Rendelman. And “anything that weakens a folder may end up undermining the entire prosecutor’s file”, she adds.
Ben Brafman gladly repeat that it will obtain full relief to Mr. Weinstein, as he was reached for Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
But according to the former prosecutor Bennett Gershman, the chances are high to see the lawyers of Harvey Weinstein eventually accepting an agreement to plead guilty, which would allow him to go to a reduced sentence.
“If (the prosecutor) made them a reasonable offer, I believe they will accept it. It is much more difficult (to be acquitted) today than it was 20 or 30 years and the defense knows it,” he said, citing as evidence the recent conviction for sexual assault of former star of american television, Bill Cosby, the first verdict of the era #MeToo.