NEW YORK: Harvey Weinstein is due in court in New York as a judge decides on the future of his sexual assault case, which has been clouded by allegations that police acted improperly in the investigation that led to his arrest.
Judge James Burke is expected to rule Thursday after a flurry of court papers in which Weinstein’s lawyers say the case has devolved into chaos and prosecutors say there’s ample evidence to move forward to trial.
Weinstein, 66, is putting on his fiercest campaign yet to get the case thrown out, seizing on the alleged police misconduct and putting forth a witness who says his rape accuser pressured her to corroborate her story.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, says the case was “irreparably tainted” by police Det. Nicholas DiGaudio’s alleged interference with a witness and an accuser.
“The only reasonably prudent decision would be to stop this chaos now,” Brafman said in a court filing.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Wilson fired back, saying “there is no possibility” that the allegations against DiGaudio “in any way impaired the integrity of the grand jury or prejudiced the defendant.”
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.
The case has been heavily scrutinized in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which exploded last year after numerous women made allegations against Weinstein.
Burke has a few options for his ruling.
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.
Such a ruling 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.
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.