Weinstein in court as judge mulls future of sex assault case

Judge James Burke is expected to issue rulings Thursday on defence motions seeking to dismiss some or all of a six-count indictment accusing Weinstein of rape and sexual assault

Harvey Weinstein is set to appear before a New York judge on Thursday as his lawyers try to get charges dismissed in his criminal case.

Judge James Burke is expected to issue rulings Thursday on defence motions seeking to dismiss some or all of a six-count indictment accusing Weinstein of rape and sexual assault.

Weinstein’s lawyer, Ben Brafman, has said in court filings that prosecutors withheld evidence that would have made the grand jury think twice about charging him, such as friendly emails one accuser sent after the alleged rape.

Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and is free on $1 million bail.

The hearing comes a year and a day after The New Yorker first published allegations by one accuser in the case, Lucia Evans.

In the story, Evans accused Weinstein of forcing her to perform oral sex when they met alone in his office in 2004 to discuss her fledgling acting career. At the time, Evans was a 21-year-old college student.

Weinstein’s lawyers and prosecutors had been wrangling over the part of the indictment pertaining to Evans’ allegations over the last few weeks in closed-door meetings and sealed court papers. In one publicly filed document, prosecutors said they were investigating evidence that hasn’t been made public.

READ MORE: One year after Weinstein, Hollywood is still soul-searching

READ MORE: Harvey Weinstein turns himself in, arraigned on rape, criminal charges

Weinstein’s legal team argued in court papers that prosecutors hadn’t properly identified the day on which Evans alleged she had been assaulted. She told interviewers only that it had happened over the summer months between semesters at school.

Evans’ lawyer, Carrie Goldberg, insisted the case was strong.

“We know of no evidence refuting our client’s report that Harvey Weinstein forcefully sexually assaulted her,” she said in a statement.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office declined comment.

While more than 75 women have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct over the past year, the criminal case in New York City involves the allegations of just three women: Evans, an unidentified woman who says he raped her in a hotel room in 2013, and an actress who said Weinstein performed a forcible sex act on her in 2006.

The New York City Police Department said in a statement it “remains fully confident in the overall case it has pursued against Mr. Weinstein. The evidence shows that the criminal case against him is strong.”

Brafman has called the charges against Weinstein a product of political pressure amid the #MeToo outcry.

New York appeals courts have said prosecutors aren’t obliged to present grand jurors with all forms of evidence that could favour a defendant, but the courts also have noted that prosecutors are obliged to seek justice and not just convictions.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they consent to being identified publicly, as Evans has.

Michael R. Sisak And Tom Hays, The Associated Press

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