Manhattan prosecutors pushed back against a call to dismiss criminal charges against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein on Monday, weeks after allegations of misconduct against a New York City police detective roiled the case.
In a 32-page response, the district attorney’s office referred to the defense motion as little more than a media smear, saying the arguments made by Weinstein attorney Benjamin Brafman had no legal basis.
“There is no hearing necessary here; in truth the only reason the defendant wants a hearing is to provide a public circus that will further the public relations campaign the defendant has been waging from the outset of this case,” Manhattan Assistant Dist. Atty. Kevin Wilson wrote in a court filing made public Monday.
In the last few weeks, Weinstein’s attorneys have focused on the conduct of NYPD Det. Nicholas DiGaudio, the former lead investigator on the case who walked Weinstein into a downtown Manhattan police precinct when he surrendered in May. According to documents made public last month, DiGaudio advised one of Weinstein’s accusers to delete information from her cellphone before turning it over to prosecutors.
Prosecutors did not learn of the incident until last month, and no information was actually deleted. Still, the development marked the latest blow to the prosecution of Weinstein, who was originally indicted on six counts related to the alleged sexual assaults of three women between 2004 and 2014.
In early October, prosecutors dropped one of the counts against Weinstein after it was revealed that one of the accusers, former actress Lucia Evans, wrote an email to her husband that offered an account of the alleged assault which differed from the version she gave to prosecutors. The email itself has not been made public and remains under seal.
The Times does not normally identify individuals who allege sexual assault, but many of Weinstein’s accusers have spoken out in public.
In the motion filed earlier this month, Brafman cited DiGaudio’s alleged misconduct as one of several factors that should spark the dismissal of the remaining five charges against his client. Brafman argued that police misconduct and the failure to disclose other exculpatory evidence by prosecutors had irrevocably tainted the grand jury which returned an indictment against Weinstein earlier this year.
Brafman pointed specifically to a text message sent by another accuser, Mimi Haleyi, seeking to arrange a meeting with Weinstein months after an alleged assault took place.
“Hi! Just wondering if u have any news on whether harvey will have time to see me before he leaves? x Miriam,” she wrote in February 2007, according to Brafman’s motion.
In the response filed Monday, prosecutors said they are not legally obligated to provide exculpatory evidence to a grand jury. Prosecutors also noted that the mere fact that Haleyi contacted Weinstein after the alleged assault does not mean the assault did not occur.
Prosecutors also said that DiGaudio’s suggestion that another accuser delete information from her phone had no effect on the case. The disclosure regarding DiGaudio “did not involve facts that were in any way relevant to evidence presented to the grand jury,” according to the filing.
Brafman scoffed at the district attorney’s response Monday, saying the “public circus” around the case was caused by feuding between prosecutors and the NYPD.
"Nothing in the D.A.'s response gives us any more confidence in the integrity of the grand jury's proceedings.… As for the hearing that [prosecutors] fear will become a "circus" -- it is a circus that they created with the D.A. and the NYPD calling each other liars,” he said in a statement to The Times.
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.
Last week, the head of the unit that investigated Weinstein, Deputy Chief Michael Osgood, was transferred to lead patrol operations in Staten Island, N.Y. Police officials would not say if the move was related to the ongoing issues with the Weinstein case.