If Harvey Weinstein were in charge of the script, he’d be walking out of a court hearing Thursday free of the criminal charges threatening to put him behind bars.
The Hollywood producer-turned-#MeToo pariah is putting on his fiercest campaign yet to convince a New York judge to throw out his sexual assault case, seizing on allegations of unscrupulous police work and putting forth a witness who says his rape accuser pressured her to corroborate her story.
Weinstein’s lawyers say the case has devolved into chaos and was “irreparably tainted” by police Det. Nicholas DiGaudio’s alleged interference with a witness and an accuser. Prosecutors say there’s “ample evidence” to put Weinstein, 66, on trial and that the DiGaudio allegations haven’t sullied the rest of the case.
Now it’s up to Judge James Burke to decide.
Weinstein is charged with raping a woman he knew in a hotel room in March 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman in 2006 at his Manhattan apartment. He denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
WHAT COULD HAPPEN?
Burke has a few options. He could side with Weinstein and dismiss some or all of the charges, or he could schedule a trial, which would be a win for prosecutors. He could also throw out the indictment, but give prosecutors time to seek a new one.
A dismissal of the charges would be a big setback to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who was criticized for declining to pursue criminal charges against Weinstein when he was accused of groping an Italian model in 2015. It wouldn’t rule out prosecutors bringing charges involving other women who say they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein in New York.
Burke could also keep the indictment in place, but grant the defense’s request for an evidentiary hearing. There, police investigators could be summoned to court to answer questions about alleged misconduct.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Weinstein’s case started to turn in October when Manhattan prosecutors dropped one of the charges after evidence surfaced that DiGaudio instructed a potential witness in the case to keep some of her doubts about the veracity of the allegations to herself.
DiGaudio allegedly told the witness last February that “less is more” but kept prosecutors in the dark. That witness never testified before the grand jury that indicted Weinstein.
Prosecutors also disclosed an allegation that DiGaudio urged the 2013 rape accuser to delete private material from her cellphones before handing them over to the DA’s office. Prosecutors said the material didn’t pertain to Weinstein and the woman wound up not deleting anything.
Late last month, Weinstein’s lawyers said they spoke to a woman who said the rape accuser asked her to corroborate her allegations, but the friend wouldn’t “make up a story.”
The friend told investigators that Weinstein and the accuser had been “hooking up” consensually for a while and that she never heard her say anything bad about him until last year, Weinstein’s lawyer, Ben Brafman, said in a court filing.
WHAT DO WEINSTEIN’S LAWYERS SAY?
Brafman says the case has been “irreparably tainted” by alleged police misconduct. He is urging Burke to dismiss the case, writing in a recent court filing: “The only reasonably prudent decision would be to stop this chaos now.”
WHAT DO PROSECUTORS SAY?
Prosecutors say there is “ample evidence” to move forward. In a court filing, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Wilson says “there is no possibility” that alleged police misconduct “in any way impaired the integrity of the grand jury or prejudiced the defendant.”
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Source: The Associated Press