The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office accused Harvey Weinstein’s attorney on Monday of seeking to create a “public circus,” as prosecutors push back on Weinstein’s effort to have his sexual assault case dismissed.
Weinstein’s attorney, Ben Brafman, has asked the court to hold an evidentiary hearing on alleged prosecutorial misconduct in the case. Brafman wants the opportunity to question New York City Police Department Det. Nicholas DiGaudio and prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon in order to bolster his argument for a dismissal. In a brief filed Monday, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Wilson accused Brafman of attempting to try the case through the media.
“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,” Wilson wrote.
Prosecutors agreed last month to dismiss one of six counts against Weinstein, after it emerged that DiGaudio had failed to inform the D.A.’s office of potentially exculpatory evidence on that count. The count involves Lucia Evans, who told the New Yorker last year that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him at his office in 2004.
A friend of Evans’ later told police that Evans had given a contradictory account of the encounter, suggesting that it was in fact consensual. Prosecutors have said that DiGaudio discouraged the friend from coming forward in a way that would undermine the case, saying “less is more.”
Brafman has argued that the disclosure taints the grand jury process, and the entire case ought to be dismissed. Should the judge refuse to toss the case, Brafman wants to question DiGaudio on the stand as to whether he coached the two remaining accusers on their accounts. Brafman also wants to explore whether prosecutors in fact were informed by DiGaudio of the friend’s exculpatory account, which would indicate that they had improperly withheld evidence from the defense, and which would also jeopardize the case. Last month, the New York Post cited sources claiming that DiGaudio asserts that he did, in fact, inform prosecutors of the issue.
In the brief, Wilson argues that the issues regarding the sixth count do not affect the other five charges.
“The remaining charges were supported by competent and ample evidence: evidence that was completely independent of the proof presented in count six,” Wilson wrote.
Wilson also states that Brafman’s suggestion that DiGaudio may have coached the other witnesses relies on “pure speculation.”
“There are no facts that could be determined at a hearing that would be relevant to the evaluations of the sufficiency of the remaining counts in the indictment,” he wrote.
Brafman fired back in a statement: “Nothing in the DA’s response gives us any more confidence in the integrity of the Grand Jury’s proceedings, and we anticipate filing a formal reply after the Thanksgiving Holiday. As for the hearing that the People fear will become a ‘circus’ — it is a circus that they created with the DA and the NYPD calling each other liars.”
The next hearing in the case is set for Dec. 20.