Manhattan’s District Attorney has dropped one of six criminal charges against Harvey Weinstein after new evidence emerged challenging the account of one of his three accusers.
During a court hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday, Judge James Burke granted the defense request to dismiss the count related to allegations by Lucia Evans. The aspiring actor first told her story to the New Yorker last October, saying Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during a daytime meeting at his Tribeca office in 2004.
According to court documents made public after Thursday’s hearing, Evans is alleged to have offered conflicting accounts about her encounter with Weinstein. Prosecutors are also accused to failing to disclose to the defense a witness who could also cast doubt on Evans’ claims, among other materials.
Prosecutors did not challenge the defense motion to dismiss the Evans count. Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon emphasized that the loss of Evans did not alter the fundamentals of the case and the prosecution’s contention that Weinstein is guilty of “predatory sexual assault” involving multiple victims.
“We are moving full-steam ahead,” Illuzi-Orbon told the judge. She said the investigation into Weinstein’s actions continues as the D.A.’s office works to determine if additional charges can be brought against Weinstein.
Defense attorney Ben Brafman said he plans to challenge the work of the lead NYPD detective in the case in light of the information about Evans that came to light. He also raised the allegation of Evans having committed perjury in her testimony to the grand jury that led to Weinstein’s indictment in May. He also slammed the New Yorker for using Evans as a key source in its coverage of the tidal wave of sexual assault allegations against the former film titan.
Brafman indicated that questions about Evans’ account may came to light as part of the New Yorker’s fact-checking process on bombshell exposes published last year by investigative reporter Ronan Farrow. He also took aim at the five other remaining counts against Weinstein, as alleged by former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and an unnamed woman accusing Weinstein of rape in 2013. Weinstein has steadfastly maintained that the sexual encounters were consensual.
The judge set the next hearing in the case for Dec. 20. Defense attorneys have until Nov. 2 to file additional motions to dismiss.
Weinstein was stone-faced as he walked haltingly into the courtroom for the hearing. Dressed in a dark suit, the former showman known for his larger than life personality did not turn his eyes to the packed rows of reporters in attendance to cover the proceedings.
As he left the courtroom, Weinstein whispered to his attorney and did glance at the crowd that included the New York Times’ Jodi Kantor, who co-wrote the first damning report in October 2017 about Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual assaults, and famed writer Ken Auletta. Both journalists are working on books about Weinstein’s stunning downfall.
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