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Judge To Decide Future Of Sexual Assault Case Against Harvey Weinstein

In May, Harvey Weinstein turned himself in to police following allegations by several women of sexual misconduct. Weinstein's lawyer will try to persuade a judge on Thursday to throw out the charges against the movie mogul.

Updated at 9:17 a.m. ET

At a hearing in New York on Thursday morning, Harvey Weinstein's legal team will try to persuade a judge that the sexual assault charges against the movie mogul should be dropped and the case thrown out.

Weinstein turned himself in to police in May, some seven months after The New York Times and The New Yorker reported for the first time that multiple women were accusing him of sexual misconduct. In June, Weinstein pleaded not guilty to charges that he sexually assaulted three women.

"Mr. Weinstein has denied these crimes," Weinstein's attorney Benjamin Brafman told a gaggle of reporters after the movie producer's plea hearing. "He has maintained that he has never engaged in non-consensual sex with anyone."

Additional charges, of a criminal sexual act and predatory sexual assault, were filed against Weinstein in July.

At the time, it seemed like a big win for the #MeToo movement; dozens of women had come forward to accuse Weinstein of rape and sexual misconduct that took place over nearly four decades. The movement, named for the social media hashtag #MeToo, has also led to the downfall of other powerful men in media – including NPR – as well as entertainment, politics and other industries.

But six months later, the case against Weinstein may be in trouble.

One of the six charges against him has already been dismissed after prosecutors disclosed an error by the lead detective on the case. And on Thursday, Brafman will move to have the rest of the charges thrown out.

"Mr. Weinstein is, you know, embarrassed by the fact that he had these extramarital relationships at a time when he was married," Brafman told NPR's Joel Rose and Rose Friedman. "You know, I'm not defending his behavior. I'm defending specific acts of criminal conduct."

Brafman's reasoning for dismissing the case rests on two arguments: that a detective involved in Weinstein's arrest made several key mistakes in his investigation and that the women who accused his client are lying.

As NPR has previously reported, the prosecution says New York Police Department detective Nicholas DiGaudio erred in his communications with Weinstein's accusers more than once, including encouraging one accuser to delete personal data from her phone before she handed it over to police.

An expert on police investigations told NPR that DiGaudio's behavior made it look like he was trying to influence the investigation.

NPR previously reported that prosecutors also say DiGaudio fumbled when he interviewed a second accuser:

"The detective had interviewed one of Weinstein's accusers, Lucia Evans, who says the film producer assaulted her in 2004. (Evans told her story to The New Yorker last year.) DiGaudio also interviewed one of Evans' friends, who says she remembers Evans describing her encounters with Weinstein differently.

But then, according to prosecutors, the detective failed to inform them about key differences in their stories — and told the friend that "going forward, 'less is more' " and that she had no obligation to cooperate with law enforcement."

The NYPD wouldn't let NPR talk to DiGaudio, but the police union told NPR that the detective did his job and that the information was handed over but was "forgotten or ignored" by prosecutors.

In October, prosecutors disclosed these and other mistakes to Weinstein's lawyers, who moved to have the assault charge based on Evans' allegations thrown out. The prosecutors agreed and the charge was dismissed.

"I'm baffled by the D.A.'s decision," Evans' attorney, Carrie Goldberg, told NPR.

Goldberg and others say they think the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., is afraid to take someone as powerful as Weinstein to court. In an earlier run-in with Weinstein in 2015, Vance declined to bring charges against the producer when he was recorded admitting to groping an Italian model.

The district attorney's office declined NPR's request for comment earlier this week.

Brafman says he also has access to thousands of emails from Weinstein's former movie studio's servers that will weaken the case against his client, according to The Associated Press. Brafman said in a court filing last month that the emails "demonstrate that these women who now allege sexual assault by Mr. Weinstein have for years engaged in loving and often intimate conversations with him before and after the date of the alleged assault," AP reported.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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