Call for to­tal dis­missal as judge throws out one We­in­stein charge

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News -

A New York judge on Thurs­day threw out one of six sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions against dis­graced Hol­ly­wood ty­coon Har­vey We­in­stein, a vic­tory for a de­fence now clam­our­ing for the en­tire case to be dis­missed.

We­in­stein, an in­ter­na­tional pariah af­ter be­ing ac­cused by more than 80 women of sex­ual mis­con­duct, is still charged with rape in March 2013 and a forced act of oral sex in 2006, which could see him spend the rest of his life in prison.

The 66-year-old father of five was ar­rested in May, eight months af­ter he was ini­tially ac­cused in the me­dia of decades of sex­ual mis­con­duct.

He is out on $1m (R14.5m) bail and de­nies any non-con­sen­sual sex. On Thurs­day he heard the pros­e­cu­tion agree to drop a forced act of oral sex lodged by Lu­cia Evans against him in 2004, due to wit­ness in­con­sis­ten­cies.

A let­ter from prose­cu­tors, sub­se­quently un­sealed by the judge, re­vealed cred­i­bil­ity is­sues and seemed to sug­gest that Evans, an aspiring ac­tress in 2004, may have per­formed oral sex on We­in­stein of her own vo­li­tion, in the hope of ob­tain­ing an act­ing part.

While We­in­stein is still fend­ing off al­le­ga­tions re­lated to two other women, Thurs­day’s de­ci­sion amounts to a se­ri­ous set­back for the pros­e­cu­tion, who have al­ready been crit­i­cised for their track record on bring­ing We­in­stein and other al­leged sex of­fend­ers to jus­tice.

“We are mov­ing full steam ahead,” pros­e­cu­tor Joan Il­luzziOr­bon said in court.

De­fence lawyer Ben Braf­man said his client was “ob­vi­ously re­lieved and to some de- gree pleased” and ac­cused the district at­tor­ney of pros­e­cut­ing We­in­stein un­der pres­sure from the press.

“When you are vil­i­fied in the me­dia, as Mr We­in­stein has been, there is a rush to judg­ment which is of­fen­sive to the con­cept of fair­ness and due process,” he said.

The next hear­ing is sched­uled for De­cem­ber 20.

Braf­man, who helped for- mer IMF boss Do­minique Strauss-Kahn escape crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion for al­leged sex­ual as­sault in 2011, in­sisted there was no con­dem­na­tion of the #MeToo move­ment.

But “when a move­ment pushes the pros­e­cu­tor to ar­rest peo­ple who have not com­mit­ted a crime and then charges them with those crimes it’s a dan­ger­ous move­ment,” he said.


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