The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Thursday dropped one count of criminal sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein after bombshell evidence emerged that suggested one of the women accusing him of sexual assault considered her encounter with Weinstein to have been consensual.
The decision to drop the charge came at a hearing in a New York City courtroom after documents revealed that Lucinda Evans, who has accused Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her during a meeting at his office years ago when she was a 21-year-old college student once told a witness that she’d considered the sexual encounter consensual. Evans is one of Weinstein’s first public accusers, and she gave her account to the The New Yorker in its blockbuster story on women’s allegations against Weinstein last year.
As Weinstein looked on, The Associated Press reported, his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, also argued that an NYPD detective learned last year that a witness came forward and said Evans described the encounter with Weinstein as consensual, but the detective never notified the D.A.’s office about the discovery of possible exculpatory evidence. “The integrity of these proceedings has been compromised,” Brafman said, accusing Evans of lying to a grand jury and adding that she should be charged with perjury.
Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said that the dismissal of this one charge is not impacting the overall case against Weinstein. “In short, your honor, we are moving full steam ahead,” she told the judge.
Meanwhile, Carrie Goldberg, a lawyer for Evans, accused the D.A.’s office of abandoning her client. “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,” Goldberg told reporters outside the courthouse. “It only speaks volumes about the Manhattan D.A.’s office and its mishandling of my client’s case.”
The Daily Beast reports that the D.A.’s office interviewed the witness after Weinstein was indicted in May. According to the witness, Evans said she ended up back at Weinstein’s office after meeting him in a bar and agreed to trade oral sex for a role in a movie. When the D.A.’s office followed up with Evans, she reportedly denied the witness’ account.
Weinstein is now facing five sex crime charges In New York. He’s denied all accusations of non-consensual sex and pleaded not guilty earlier this year. He’s been free and under house arrest after posting $1 million bail and faces decades in prison if convicted. The judge said he would hear additional arguments from Weinstein’s lawyers to dismiss more charges on December 20.
Below, watch video of Brafman and Goldberg speaking outside the courthouse after the charge was dropped.
Read the full story at The Associated Press.