NYC pros­e­cu­tor drops part of We­in­stein sex as­sault case

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Michael R. Sisak and Tom Hays

NEW YORK — Man­hat­tan’s dis­trict at­tor­ney dropped part of the crim­i­nal sex­ual as­sault case against Har­vey We­in­stein on Thurs­day af­ter ev­i­dence emerged that a po­lice de­tec­tive had coached a wit­ness to stay silent about ev­i­dence that cast doubt on the ac­count of one of his three ac­cusers.

The de­vel­op­ment was an­nounced in court. The 66-year-old former movie mogul, who has de­nied all al­le­ga­tions of non-con­sen­sual sex, still faces charges over al­le­ga­tions that he raped an uniden­ti­fied woman in his ho­tel room in 2013 and per­formed a forcible sex act on a dif­fer­ent woman in 2006.

The tossed charge in­volves al­le­ga­tions made by Lu­cia Evans, who was among the first women to pub­licly ac­cuse We­in­stein of sex­ual as­sault.

Chief of De­tec­tives Der­mot Shea said an in­ter­nal probe of De­tec­tive Ni­cholas DiGau­dio’s con­duct be­gan a week ago.

He said DiGau­dio now has “no ac­tive role” in the We­in­stein in­ves­ti­ga­tion but re­mains on duty.

In an ex­pose pub­lished in The New Yorker one year ago Wed­nes­day, Evans ac­cused We­in­stein of forc­ing her to per­form oral sex when they met alone in his of­fice in 2004 to dis­cuss her fledg­ling act­ing ca­reer. At the time, Evans was a 21-year-old col­lege stu­dent. She said she had ini­tially met We­in­stein at a restau­rant in Man­hat­tan ear­lier that sum­mer.

Pros­e­cu­tors said in a let­ter un­sealed Thurs­day that they learned weeks ago that a fe­male friend who was with Evans the night she met We­in­stein had given a po­lice de­tec­tive a con­tra­dic­tory ac­count of what hap­pened. Har­vey We­in­stein, left, talks with his at­tor­ney Benjamin Braf­man dur­ing his hear­ing in New York on Thurs­day.

The woman, pros­e­cu­tors said, told the de­tec­tive in Fe­bru­ary that We­in­stein had of­fered them money to flash their breasts dur­ing the restau­rant en­counter. They ini­tially de­clined but Evans later told her she had gone ahead and ex­posed her­self to the film pro­ducer in a hall­way.

The woman also told the de­tec­tive that some­time af­ter Evans’ of­fice meet­ing with We­in­stein, she had sug­gested what hap­pened was con­sen­sual. We­in­stein had promised to get her an act­ing job if she agreed to per­form oral sex, and she agreed.

Ac­cord­ing to the wit­ness, who was not named in the court fil­ing, Evans had been drink­ing and “ap­peared to be up­set, em­bar­rassed and shak­ing” when she told the story.

Pros­e­cu­tors said the po­lice de­tec­tive didn’t share any of that in­for­ma­tion with pros­e­cu­tors and urged the woman not to re­veal de­tails, say­ing “less is more,” and that she had no obli­ga­tion to co­op­er­ate with in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Pros­e­cu­tors also dis­closed that they had dis­cov­ered a draft email that Evans had writ­ten three years ago to a man who is now her hus­band that “de- scribes de­tails of the sex­ual as­sault that dif­fer from the ac­count” she pro­vided to in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Joan Il­luzzi- Or­bon told the judge that pros­e­cu­tors wouldn’t op­pose dis­missal of the count in the case in­volv­ing Evans. She in­sisted the rest of the case, in­volv­ing two other ac­cusers, was strong.

“In short, your honor, we are mov­ing full steam ahead,” she said.

Evans’ lawyer, Car­rie Gold­berg, said out­side court that her client had been aban­doned by Man­hat­tan Dis­trict At­tor­ney Cyrus Vance Jr. for no rea­son.

“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 in a writ­ten state­ment. “It only speaks vol­umes about the Man­hat­tan DA’s of­fice and its mis­han­dling of my client’s case.”

She in­sisted Evans has told the truth and dis­puted that she ei­ther showed We­in­stein her breasts or mis­led in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

STEVEN HIRSCH/AP

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