Harvey Weinstein is using an email allegedly written by Ben Affleck to cast doubt on Rose McGowan’s claim that the producer sexually assaulted her in 1997.
According to a statement from Weinstein’s attorney Ben Brafman, two people whom McGowan claims to have told about the alleged assault at the time — her then-manager and Affleck — have denied that the actress reported the attack to them.
“She never told me nor did I ever infer that she was attacked by anyone. Any accounts to the contrary are false. I have no knowledge about anything Rose did or claimed to have done,’ ” Affleck allegedly wrote in an email to Weinstein, according to Brafman.
McGowan, who has been promoting her new book Brave, as well as the two-hour premiere of her E! documentary Citizen Rose on Tuesday, previously claimed in a series of tweets that Affleck knew about the alleged assault.
“‘GODDAMNIT! I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT’ you said that to my face,” McGowan tweeted after the Justice League star released a statement in October saying that the allegations against Weinstein made him “sick.”
Asked in October if he was aware of Weinstein’s behavior, Affleck told Today he “knew he was sleazy.”
He added, “I knew he was sleazy and kind of a bully, but unfortunately that wasn’t that uncommon. I was brand new to Hollywood … I was 24 years old, I never made a movie and didn’t know much of anything really.”
During the same interview, Affleck expressed support for McGowan, saying, “I don’t really want to get into other people’s individual stories because I feel like those are their stories and they are entitled to tell as much or as little of those as they want. I believe Rose, I support her, I really like and admire her tenacity and wish her the best.”
When McGowan first opened up about her alleged experience with Weinstein to The New York Times in October, she said that she informed her then-manager Jill Messick about the alleged attack the day after she says it happened.
“She held me,” McGowan told the paper. “She put her arms around me.”
But McGowan said that in the months to come, she did not feel supported by her management team. She said that she was referred to a lawyer who specialized in harassment and assault cases and was given the impression that “filing a criminal charge was hopeless.”
Anne Woodward, a young assistant to Messick at the time, told the Times, “I remember that Rose was extremely upset and did not want to settle … She wanted to fight.” Woodward said no one around McGowan supported that decision.
“It was an emotionally shocking way to see a woman being treated,” Woodward said. “That’s what stuck with me.”
Brafman, however, asserts that McGowan told Messick that her sexual encounter with Weinstein was consensual.
“When we met up the following day, she hesitantly told me of her own accord that during the meeting that night before she had gotten into a hot tub with Mr. Weinstein,” Messick said, according to Brafman.
“She was very clear about the fact that getting into that hot tub was something that she did consensually and that in hindsight it was also something that she regretted having done.”
Shortly after Messick ended her professional relation with McGowan, she went on to accept a job at the Weinstein-run Miramax studios.
Brafman offered what he claims are Messick and Affleck’s rebuttals in response to “watching the ‘performance’ by Rose McGowan as she looks to promote her new book.”
McGowan was one of the first women to speak out in October when news broke about his alleged decades of alleged sexual misconduct and assault in The New York Times and The New Yorker. The former producer has since been accused by over 60 women of various forms of sexual assault and misconduct.
In October, the NYT reported that McGowan was part of a settlement with Weinstein in 1997 following the alleged encounter. The $100,000 payout was “not to be construed as an admission” by Weinstein, but intended to “avoid litigation and buy peace,” according to a legal document reportedly reviewed by the NYT.
Weinstein’s lawyer Ben Brafman responded to McGowan’s allegations in a statement to PEOPLE.
“Mr. Weinstein denies Rose McGowan’s allegations of non-consensual sexual contact and it is erroneous and irresponsible to conflate claims of inappropriate behavior and consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of rape.” His spokesperson also said that McGowan “chose to demand money” from Weinstein and worked and appeared with him later in her career.“
A spokesperson for Weinstein also previously told PEOPLE in a statement that “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”