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Judge Rejects Brett Ratner’s Bid to Question Rape Accuser

Brett Ratner Sexual Harassment
Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP/REX/Sh

A federal judge in Hawaii will not allow Brett Ratner’s attorneys to take a deposition from Melanie Kohler, the woman who has accused the famed director of rape.

But, in a ruling issued Thursday, Judge Helen Gillmor did allow Ratner’s attorneys to submit written questions and seek Kohler’s correspondence with media outlets.

Ratner sued Kohler for defamation on Nov. 1, arguing that she damaged his reputation by writing a Facebook post in October that accused him of raping her more than 12 years ago. Kohler’s attorneys are seeking to dismiss the lawsuit under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which protects speech on matters of public interest.

Under the statute, Ratner’s attorneys have the burden of showing a probability of prevailing on the merits of the case. In order to do that, they are allowed to obtain limited discovery from Kohler. Ratner’s attorneys, Eric Seitz and Martin Singer, asked Judge Helen Gillmor to allow them to take Kohler’s deposition, in which she would be asked details of the alleged rape and about alleged discrepancies in her story.

Kohler’s attorneys, including David Louie and Roberta Kaplan, objected to the broad scope of Ratner’s request. They requested that Ratner be allowed to ask no more than five written questions of Kohler. In her ruling, Gillmor rejected the request for a deposition, but allowed a broad range of written questions.

“Plaintiff has not established that a deposition is necessary at this stage in the proceedings,” Gillmor wrote. “Plaintiff may request answers to interrogatories from Defendant Kohler about the details of the alleged rape, where it supposedly occurred, precisely when it purportedly occurred, what allegedly happened before and after, who was present for the events before and after the alleged rape, when and to whom she told about the alleged incident, and any other interactions she had with Plaintiff Ratner.”

Gillmor also allowed Ratner to seek correspondence between Kohler and third parties about the alleged rape, including the L.A. Times and ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Kohler was interviewed on “Good Morning America” last fall.

The judge set a timeline for filing of arguments, with Kohler’s reply due on Aug. 10. A hearing on the motion to strike the suit has not been scheduled.