MANHATTAN (CN) – The judge presiding over the prosecution of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein dropped a charge Thursday related to allegations that he forced oral sex from an actress.
Though rape and sexual assault allegations against Weinstein remain pending, the dropped count related to an encounter that actress Lucia Evans described last year in an explosive article for The New Yorker.
Over the summer, Weinstein’s attorney Benjamin Brafman noted in a motion to dismiss that Evans “now claims she does not remember the date on which she was sexually assaulted,” despite having provided a detailed account of the supposed 2004 incident to journalist Ronan Farrow.
“As a result, no specific date is provided and the indictment instead charges a ‘season’ – alleging that Mr. Weinstein engaged in this conduct at some point ‘during the period from on or about June 1, 2004 to on or about September 1, 2004,’” the motion said. “As argued in the attached Memorandum of Law, this count is defective and should be dismissed …because a three-month time frame is unreasonable and prevents Mr. Weinstein from adequately preparing his defense to the charge.”
Brafman called Evans’ sworn testimony perjurious in court this morning.
“The integrity of these proceedings has been compromised,” Brafman said, adding that he plans to subpoena a fact checker at The New Yorker.
Intimating that he was also seeking the removal of NYPD detective Nicholas DiGaudio, Brafman claimed that the officer hindered a witness from testifying about her misstatements. Brafman advised the court that the defense anticipates subpoenas for any other witnesses who may have talked to DiGaudio.
Weinstein walked with a slight limp as he arrived in Burke’s courtroom on the 13th floor of New York Supreme Court; Brafman fixed the producer’s collar as they settled in for the 20-minute hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan Illuzi Osborn affirmed the District Attorney’s investigation is still “moving full-steam ahead.”
Osborn said the prosecution continues to meet with witnesses and gather evidence, “not only to prepare for trial, but also to determine whether there are additional complainants or incidents for which the defendant can be charged.”
Evans’ attorney Carrie Goldberg was in attendance at Thursday’s hearing and released a statement immediately afterward, chiding Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance for not supporting the charge.
“Instead of rising to the challenges of their mistakes, the DA jumped ship at the first opportunity,” Goldberg said. “Vance has done this before, when powerful men have been accused of sex crimes, including Weinstein himself; throwing cooperative crime victims under the bus. It raises serious questions of bias.”
Goldberg said today’s developments underscore the need for reform.
“Let me be clear – the decision to throw away my client’s sexual assault charges says nothing about Weinstein’s guilt or innocence, nor does it reflect on Lucia’s consistent allegation that she was sexually assaulted with force by Harvey Weinstein,” she said. “It only speaks volumes about the Manhattan DA’s office and its mishandling of my client’s case.
“They used her, ” Goldberg said, “They had all the evidence they have now and they still put her through the torture of walking through the scene of the crime, handing over her therapy and medical records, undergoing their cross-examination for hours upon hours. Month after month. Lucia’s case deserves to be heard.”
The remaining five counts, which include predatory sexual assault charges, carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and is free on $1 million bail. His next court appearance in this case is set for Dec. 20.