As Harvey Weinstein awaits sentencing on Wednesday for criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree, a new report has revealed his attempts to court help from influential people after the sexual abuse allegations emerged in 2017. The New York Times reports that a number of court documents unsealed on Monday highlight his pleas to wealthy friends, including Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, and Tim Cook.
Weinstein had his sights set on a comeback instead of being fired outright by the Weinstein Company. “All I’m asking for is, let me take a leave of absence and get into heavy therapy and counseling whether it be in a facility or somewhere else, and allow me to resurrect myself with a second chance,” he wrote in a letter to his friends.
The documents paint a desperate, last-ditch effort to portray Weinstein as a sympathetic figure, through promising to attend (and later attending) a counseling program for sex addicts, alluding to childhood sexual abuse to a gossip columnist, and penning a letter that he was suicidal. He aimed to win the support of nearly every powerful media executive, including Ronald Meyer, the vice chairman of NBC Universal, and Theodore A. Sarandos Jr., the chief content officer of Netflix.
Weinstein also sought advice from Anita Dunn, the top adviser to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and long-time Democratic strategist, after the reports were published. “You should accept your fate graciously, and not seek to deny or discredit those who your behaviour has affected,” she told him in an email. In 2017, Buzzfeed reported that Dunn was on the team of PR specialists and lawyers consulting Weinstein prior to the initial New York Times investigation into his sexual abuse allegations. Her employer at the time, Washington public affairs firm SKDKnickerbocker, issued a statement confirming that he spoke with Dunn, but denying that he’s a client of the firm. “If you know Anita, you can only imagine what she said to him. Our commitment to defending women’s rights remains as strong as ever.”
One of the more unnerving tidbits involves Jennifer Aniston. Weinstein heard that she had accused him of groping her, and sent a threatening email to his representative. “Jen Aniston should be killed,” he wrote. Aniston’s publicist told the New York Times this was the first they’d heard of the email, that Weinstein had never been alone with her, and they have no further comment.
The documents also contained a scathing letter from Weinstein’s brother and co-founder of the Weinstein Company, who seems to have fractured their relationship following the allegations. “U deserve a lifetime achievement award for the sheer savagery and immorality and inhumanness (sic,) for the acts u have perpetrated,” he wrote. “I pray there is a real hell. That’s where u belong.”
Weinstein faces up to 29 years in prison during his sentencing on Wednesday, although his lawyers have requested a term of just five years, arguing anything more than 12 years would “constitute a de facto life sentence.” Meanwhile, prosecutors have pressed the judge to consider 36 “prior bad acts” for which he was never criminally charged, beginning with an alleged rape in 1978.