The criminal case against disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein was dealt a serious setback Thursday. Prosecutors representing the Manhattan District Attorney’s office dropped one of the six charges against him.
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told a judge Thursday that the D.A. was dropping the charge connected to one of his three court accusers, Lucia Evans. She was one of the first of 80+ women to come forward with allegations against Weinstein, but only three’s cases have moved forward to trial. In an article in The New Yorker published a year ago Wednesday, Evans first shared her story. In the article, she said he’d forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004.
But in a letter to the defense unsealed in court on Thursday, it appears there is a counter-narrative and that Evans’ interaction with Weinstein appears to have been consensual.
The letter reads: “According to the Witness…the Complainant [Evans] told the Witness that…the Complainant had gone to the defendant’s office, where the Defendant told her, in substance, that he would arrange for the Complainant to receive an acting job if she agreed to perform oral sex upon him. According to the Witness, the Complainant told her that she thereupon performed oral sex on the defendant.”
Weinstein’s legal team, led by Benjamin Brafman, accused Evans of committing perjury when she testified before a grand jury that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex.
“Sexual assault is a serious crime but falsely accusing someone of sexual assault is also a serious crime,” Brafman said outside of the courtroom, according to ABC.
Brafman said Evans’ counter-narrative about her account was uncovered by a fact-checker at The New Yorker. He plans to subpoena the magazine.
Brafman also argued that the case is “permanently and irreparably damaged” by the development, and noted that he plans to call for a dismissal.
A lawyer for Evans, meanwhile, said she is disappointed that the D.A. “abandoned” her.
“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,” said attorney Carrie Goldberg. “It only speaks volumes about the Manhattan DA’s office and its mishandling of my client’s case.”
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to all six charges and remains free on $1 million bail.