What to Know
- Prosecutors told Harvey Weinstein's lawyer that the lead detective in the case told a witness to delete material from a phone
- Part of the criminal case against Weinstein was dropped in a New York courtroom last Thursday
- His lawyer has said in court filings that prosecutors withheld evidence that would have made the grand jury think twice about charging him
The Manhattan District Attorney's office has told Harvey Weinstein's attorney that the lead detective in the movie mogul's sexual assault case advised an alleged victim to delete messages from her phone before turning it over to prosecutors.
The bombshell revelation comes less than a week after the office dropped part of the case against Weinstein, after evidence emerged that the same detective had coached a witness to stay silent about evidence that cast doubt on the account one of Weinstein's three accusers.
The DA's office sent Weinstein attorney Benjamin Brafman a letter on Tuesday saying it had been contacted last week by an attorney for "Complainant 2," who is the complaining witness behind three counts in the case against Weinstein.
According to the letter, the alleged victim told the DA's office that she had expressed concern about turning over phones to prosecutors because they contained personal information.
Det. Nicholas DiGaudio, prosecutors said, then allegedly told the accuser to "delete anything she did not want anyone to see" before turning over the phones. She also told prosecutors that the detective said they would conceal the deletions from the DA's office.
According to prosecutors, the accuser never actually deleted anything from her phones and turned them over intact.
Branfman said in a statement Wednesday, "This new development even further undermines the integrity of an already deeply flawed indictment of Mr. Weinstein."
The president of the Detectives' Endowment Association defended DiGaudio and dismissed the prosecutors' accusations as stodgy and out-of-touch.
"The Manhattan DA's office needs to enter the 21st century," said DEA President Michael Palladino in a statement. "This is the age of technology. People keep loads of personal info on their phones that they prefer remains confidential."
"A woman should not have to surrender confidential intimate information that's immaterial to the case to defend herself against a sexual predator," he continued. "That's being victimized twice. Detective DiGaudio was sensitive to that."
Palladino said he was "not impressed" by the DA's letter, and pointed out that the letter indicates that DiGaudio "did not influence the victim's evidence or testimony."
"This appears to be just another smear campaign against Detective DiGaudio to cover up the Manhattan DA's own incompetence," he said.
The 66-year-old former movie mogul Weinstein, who has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex, still faces charges over allegations that he raped an unidentified woman in his hotel room in 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006.
The tossed charge involves allegations made by Lucia Evans, who was among the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual assault.
Prosecutors said in a letter unsealed last Thursday that they learned weeks ago that a female friend who was with Evans the night she met Weinstein had given a police detective a contradictory account of what happened.
The woman, prosecutors said, told the detective in February that Weinstein had offered them money to flash their breasts during the restaurant encounter. They initially declined but Evans later told her she had gone ahead and exposed herself to the film producer in a hallway.
The woman also told the detective that sometime after Evans' office meeting with Weinstein, she had suggested what happened was consensual. Weinstein had promised to get her an acting job if she agreed to perform oral sex and she agreed.
According to the witness, who was not named in the court filing, Evans had been drinking and "appeared to be upset, embarrassed and shaking" when she told the story.
Prosecutors said the police detective didn't share any of that information with prosecutors and urged the woman not to reveal details, saying "less is more," and that she had no obligation to cooperate with investigators.
Prosecutors also disclosed that they had discovered a draft email that Evans had written three years ago to a man who is now her husband that "describes details of the sexual assault that differ from the account" she provided to investigators.