New York City prosecutors have dropped one of six counts of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein after the former movie mogul’s team questioned inconsistencies in a victim’s testimony.
The development, which was announced in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday morning, involved an accusation of assault made by Lucia Evans, a once aspiring actress who told the New Yorker that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during a 2004 meeting.
Weinstein surrendered to New York police in May and was charged with rape in the first degree, rape in the third degree and committing a criminal sexual act in the first degree for alleged forcible sexual acts against two women in 2004 and 2013, prosecutors have said.
In court Thursday, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzi-Osborn said the development would not affect the other five counts against Weinstein.
“In short, we are moving full steam ahead,” she said. “As we do with every case, we will follow the facts of law wherever they may lead, and protect those who are preyed upon as well as the integrity of the process.”
According to a letter made public Thursday, the victim wrote a draft email to her husband in 2015 that somewhat differed from the account of the assault she gave to prosecutors.
“The account describes details of the sexual assault that differ from the account the complainant has provided to our office,” the letter reads.
The victim also previously told prosecutors she had “never disclosed” the details of Weinstein’s alleged assault to her husband, according to the letter sent by prosecutors to Weinstein’s defense attorney, Benjamin Brafman.
In court on Thursday, Brafman told the judge he believed Evans had lied to the grand jury. He also said he believed a police detective had corruptly attempted to influence the case by keeping a witness from testifying about her misstatements.
“The integrity of these proceedings has been compromised,” he said.
Outside the courtroom, Brafman chastised Evans in even stronger terms, suggesting she had committed perjury.
An attorney for Evans said prosecutors had abandoned a victim.
“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,” attorney Carrie Goldberg said in a statement. “It only speaks volumes about the Manhattan D.A.’s office and its mishandling of my client’s case.”
Wednesday’s development did not mark the first time the Manhattan district attorney’s office has been questioned over its handling of sexual assault allegations against Weinstein. Earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the state attorney general to review the office’s decision not to pursue charges against Weinstein after he was accused of groping an Italian model in 2015.
Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women, and the torrent of allegations against him served as the basis for the #MeToo movement, which has led to the downfall of a number of celebrities and politicians.
Police in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, New York and London have conducted investigations into more than 20 allegations in the last year against Weinstein. Cases have been submitted to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office for review, but no charges have been filed.
Weinstein has denied any wrongdoing. He has pleaded not guilty and remains free on $1-million bail. Weinstein is due back in court on December 20.