NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York judge on Thursday dismissed one of the six criminal charges against movie producer Harvey Weinstein after prosecutors said they could not oppose the dismissal in light of information they had learned while investigating the case.
The dismissed charge concerns an alleged sexual assault of an aspiring actress by Weinstein in 2004. Five other charges, involving alleged assaults of two other women, remain in the case in Manhattan criminal court. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said he would seek dismissal of the remaining charges as well. He also said that he would investigate what he described as “perjury” before the grand jury that indicted Weinstein, and the conduct of a New York City police detective involved in the case.
The woman who accused Weinstein of assaulting her in 2004, Lucia Evans, told the New Yorker in October 2017 that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him when she was a 21-year-old college student.
“I want to be very clear that prosecutor’s decision to abandon my client’s claims does not invalidate the truth of her claims,” Carrie Goldberg, a lawyer for Evans, told reporters outside the courthouse following Thursday’s hearing.
Following the hearing, the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance made public a letter it had sent to Brafman last month disclosing that an unnamed witness had told them that she had heard an account of the alleged assault from Evans that was different from the one Evans originally gave to Vance’s office.
Vance’s office also learned that the witness had given the account to a New York City police detective, who failed to inform the prosecutors, according to the letter.
Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone following accusations by more than 70 women, mostly young actresses and other women employed in the movie business, of sexual misconduct, including rape, dating back decades.
The accusations led to the #MeToo movement in which hundreds of women publicly accuse powerful men in business, politics and entertainment of sexual harassment and abuse.
As the accusations against Weinstein mounted, his company Weinstein Co fired him and filed for bankruptcy, and he was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Through his company and Miramax, Weinstein won plaudits and awards for movies including “Shakespeare in Love,” “Pulp Fiction” and “The King’s Speech.”
Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas