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Detective in Harvey Weinstein case encouraged accuser to delete data from her phone, document shows

Detective in Harvey Weinstein case encouraged accuser to delete data from her phone, document shows
NYPD Det. Nicholas DiGaudio, right, escorts Harvey Weinstein into court in Manhattan in May. On Wednesday, prosecutors released a letter that suggested DiGaudio told one of Weinstein's accusers to delete information from her cellphone before turning it over to prosecutors. (Associated Press)

The detective who was once at the center of the sexual assault case against Harvey Weinstein told one of the disgraced mogul’s accusers to delete information from her cellphone before turning it over to prosecutors, according to a document made public Wednesday.

NYPD Det. Nicholas DiGaudio, who led Weinstein into a Manhattan courthouse in handcuffs earlier this year, gave the advice after the woman said she was concerned some of her personal communications could wind up in a court file, records show.

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Manhattan Assistant Dist. Atty. Joan Illuzzi-Osborn disclosed the information in a letter to Weinstein’s legal team, which was made public Wednesday. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said it would not comment further on the matter.

Prosecutors learned of the situation last week, during a phone call with the accuser and one of her attorneys, according to the letter. No information was actually deleted from the phone.

“This new development even further undermines the integrity of an already deeply flawed indictment of Mr. Weinstein,” his attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement.

Weinstein surrendered to New York police in May and has been charged with sexually assaulting three women between 2004 and 2014, prosecutors have said.

The woman described in the letter made public on Wednesday is the accuser in three of the remaining five charges against Weinstein, court records show.

The accuser described in the letter, whose identity has never been made public, told prosecutors that she consulted with DiGaudio before turning over her cellphones to the district attorney’s office, according to the letter.

During that conversation, DiGaudio said the accuser should “delete anything she did not want anyone to see” before providing any cellphones to the prosecution.

“We just won’t tell Joan,” DiGaudio said, according to the letter, referring to the lead prosecutor, Illuzzi-Osborn.

The accuser insisted that “at no time” did DiGaudio or anyone else influence her testimony, according to the letter.

DiGaudio is no longer involved in the Weinstein investigation. The NYPD has launched an internal investigation into the detective’s handling of the case, according to two people with knowledge of the case.

Wednesday’s development marked the latest blow to the district attorney’s office in its pursuit of the Miramax co-founder. Last week, prosecutors decided to drop one of the six criminal charges against Weinstein , after questions were raised about the testimony of Lucia Evans, a once-aspiring actress and model who has alleged Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during a 2004 meeting.

According to records made public last week, a witness who was present the first time Evans met the movie mogul told police that Evans said her sexual encounter with Weinstein was consensual. Evans also wrote a draft email to her husband in 2015 that differed somewhat from the account of the assault she gave to prosecutors, according to the letter.

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The Los Angeles Times does not usually identify those who make accusations of sexual assault, but Evans had come forward publicly in the past.

In a dismissal motion filed earlier this year, Weinstein’s defense team also questioned the credibility of the accuser described in the letter made public Wednesday. According to that motion, Weinstein and his accuser exchanged “more than 400 warm, complimentary and solicitous emails” after the purported assault took place in 2013.

In a statement, the New York Police Department said “the evidence against Mr. Weinstein is compelling and strong,” but did not address the situation involving DiGuadio.

“The NYPD will continue its work with the prosecution to deliver justice for the courageous survivors who have bravely come forward,” the statement read.

The department did not respond to questions about what, if any, internal investigations DiGuadio may face.

DiGaudio is a veteran sex crimes investigator who has served in the NYPD for more than 30 years, according to Det. Michael Palladino, president of the union that represents NYPD detectives. In a statement, Palladino dismissed the development as irrelevant to the case and accused the district attorney’s office of attacking DiGaudio to cover up its own failings in the Weinstein case.

“The Manhattan D.A.’s office needs to enter the 21st century. This is the age of technology. People keep loads of personal info on their phones that they prefer remains confidential,” the statement read. “A woman should not have to surrender confidential intimate information that’s immaterial to the case to defend herself against a sexual predator.”

5:20 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the accuser described in the documents made public Wednesday and information about the NYPD’s internal investigation of Det. Nicholas DiGaudio.

2:40 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the union that represents NYPD detectives.

1:55 p.m.: This article was updated with additional background on the allegations against Harvey Weinstein as well as comments from his attorney and the NYPD.

This article was originally published at 1 p.m.

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