A lawyer representing actress Paz de la Huerta sent a cease-and-desist letter to the attorney of Harvey Weinstein on Thursday evening, accusing the lawyer of defamation. The letter, addressed to Benjamin Brafman, a well-known defense attorney representing the movie mogul in his New York criminal case, concerned comments he made earlier in the week questioning de la Huerta’s mental stability.
“On November 13, 2018, your office distributed to the press some written comments that state a factual assessment of my client that is defamatory in my opinion,” wrote de la Huerta’s lawyer, Aaron Filler. “It appears that you have provided this statement as a legal conclusion meant to impeach her allegations and her potential testimony.”
Brafman’s comments came after de la Huerta filed a civil lawsuit against Weinstein on Monday, accusing him of assault and sexual battery in two separate incidents in 2010. In response, Brafman called her claims the product of an “unstable” mind.
“It is our understanding that the Manhattan District Attorney's Office carefully reviewed Ms. De la Huerta's claims of sexual assault by Mr Weinstein many months ago and made a conscious decision to reject her as a complainant for obvious reasons,” Brafman wrote in an email to the Daily Beast. “We also believe that her newly minted version of events including her new California claims are equally preposterous and unfortunately, the product of an unstable personality with a vivid imagination.”
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on whether they had considered de la Huerta as a potential complainant in their criminal case.
De la Huerta, who has known Weinstein since working with him on 1999’s The Cider House Rules when she was 14, claims the producer approached her on December 7, 2010 at the premiere of the movie Blue Valentine, offered her a ride home, and then forced her to have sex with him. She claims that he then stalked her for two weeks before raping her a second time in her Tribeca home on December 23, 2010.
According to Filler’s cease-and-desist letter, Brafman will not be representing Weinstein in de la Huerta’s lawsuit, which was filed in California civil court. “I know you principally do criminal defense,” Filler wrote, “but I called to ask because I was mystified as to why you would be attacking my client in relation to a civil complaint in California.”
Because Brafman does not anticipate being involved in either civil or criminal litigation on Weinstein’s behalf regarding de la Huerta, Filler writes, his statements have no litigation privilege from defamation.
“I know you are an excellent defense attorney and your client needs your utmost expertise and attention,” Filler wrote. “At the same time you are directed to cease and desist from any further public comment about our client Paz De La Huerta which might reasonably be considered defamatory.”