Weinstein Defense Makes Last-Ditch Bid to Call NYPD Detective

Harvey Weinstein, Donna Rotunno
Kristin Callahan/ACE Pictures/Sh

Harvey Weinstein’s defense team made a last-ditch attempt on Monday to call Det. Nicholas DiGaudio, the NYPD detective who was removed from the case after allegedly withholding information from prosecutors.

Justice James Burke previously rejected defense requests to call DiGaudio and to obtain his personnel file. In a motion filed on Monday, defense attorney Damon Cheronis urged Burke to reconsider, saying DiGaudio’s testimony could affect the credibility of the prosecution’s entire case. Burke again denied the motion on Monday.

The defense has been prevented from putting the NYPD on trial in the case. The prosecution did not call any law enforcement witnesses, instead relying on testimony from six women who allege they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein. The jury has not heard much of anything about DiGaudio’s conduct, which was the subject of substantial pre-trial wrangling.

In October 2018, the prosecution agreed to drop one sex assault charge against Weinstein, after learning that DiGaudio had failed to disclose exculpatory information about the incident. DiGaudio also allegedly coached Jessica Mann, the primary witness in the case, that she could delete anything she did not want anyone to see before turning over her cellphone to prosecutors.

On the witness stand on Jan. 31, Mann testified that she was reluctant to turn over her phone because it contained naked pictures. She said that the detective told her, “If there are any pictures, we can delete them and won’t tell Joan,” referring to prosecutor Joan Illuzzi. Mann said she ended up turning over her phone without deleting anything.

In his motion, Cheronis argued that Mann’s testimony had made DiGaudio a relevant witness.

“Nicholas DiGaudio, by the People’s direct presentation of evidence, has undoubtedly become a witness with first-hand knowledge of a disputed issue,” he argued. “The People have presented a very lengthy case, including a significant amount of irrelevant or at-best tangentially relevant evidence in an effort to corroborate its charges, and to corroborate their stories and meet its burden of proof. The investigative omissions, and at times affirmative, corrupt, and even illegal behaviors of the People’s officers directly bears on whether it has met that burden in this regard.”

Cheronis also noted that prosecutors are usually eager to have their investigators testify. Yet in this case, the D.A.’s office has argued that allowing the defense to call the detective would create a distracting “sideshow.”

“The ability to put forward evidence and testimony casting doubt on the integrity of the investigation remains an indisputably relevant issue that the jury should be allowed to determine,” Cheronis argued.

In pre-trial proceedings, Weinstein’s attorneys argued that Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance, Jr., filed charges because he was under tremendous political pressure to do so. That claim has not come up at trial, either.

The defense has made several motions for a mistrial, arguing that various errors have made it impossible for Weinstein to get a fair hearing. Each has been denied.

The defense is expected to call its final witnesses on Tuesday, with closing arguments set for Thursday and Friday.