In their opening statements at Harvey Weinstein’s criminal rape trial on Wednesday, Weinstein’s defense team will be able to refer to what they say are “dozens and dozens of loving” emails that women sent to him after he allegedly assaulted them.
New York State Supreme Court Judge James Burke ruled on Tuesday that the reference to the messages will be allowed as part of defense plans for an opening power point presentation. But his attorneys will not be allowed to display the actual emails at that point in the trial.
Burke said that he will allow the reference to the emails because it has to do with “defendants theory of the case that the sex was consensual.”
The hearing on Tuesday offered a glimpse of how Weinstein’s defense team and prosecutors plan to approach the case.
Harvey Weinstein Jury Is Set After Clashes Between Prosecutors And Defense
Burke also made a number of other rulings on what evidence will be admitted and what will not, including some emails pertaining to Weinstein’s interaction with the crisis public relations firm Sitrick & Co.
But the emails are likely to prove a flashpoint later in the trial, particularly if defense attorneys are allowed to challenge the witnesses with the messages. Prosecutors had objected to their inclusion in the power point presentation, arguing that some may ultimately be ruled as inadmissible.
“You cannot say right now what statements are going to be admissible and what statements are not going to be admissible,” said prosecutor Joan Illuzzi.
But Damon Cheronis, one of Weinstein’s defense attorneys, said that “what we will counter with are their own words.”
“These are written statements to Harvey Weinstein from complaining witnesses, and I can give you example after example,” Cheronis said, adding that it “will be up to the witness to explain why they said something different.”
He said that “witnesses who claim sexual assault with him also bragged about being involved in sexual relations with him.”
He suggested that they would include an instance where one of his alleged victims reached out “to give him her own phone number” and another where a witness “wanted to introduce him to her mother.”
Weinstein, 67, faces five charges of sexual assault stemming from allegations by two women related to incidents in 2006 and 2013. He has insisted that all the sexual encounters were consensual. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
A jury of seven men and five women were seated on Friday.
Source: Read Full Article