A NY judge on Thursday dismissed one of six sexual assault allegations against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, which defence lawyers claim taints the entire case against him.
Harvey Weinstein (C) arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court for a hearing on October 11, 2018 in New York City.
The dismissed charge concerns an alleged sexual assault of an aspiring actress by Weinstein in 2004.
Weinstein still faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars if convicted of predatory sexual assault.
Five charges involving alleged sex assaults on two women remain. At the time, Evans was a 21-year-old college student.
Prosecutors said in a September 12 letter to the defense unsealed today that they discovered an account after Weinstein's arrest that could suggest the encounter was consensual.
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, however, said the rest of the case is "full steam ahead".
His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said in court that he believes Evans lied to the grand jury about what happened.
He also claimed a police officer had corruptly attempted to influence the case by keeping a witness from testifying about her misstatements.
He walked into the criminal court in downtown Manhattan dressed in a dark suit, tie and white shirt for the brief hearing that scored at least an initial win for his defence attorney Ben Brafman.
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.
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Brafman said the written account from Evans was discovered from a fact-checker at The New Yorker, and that he would subpoena the magazine.
In a statement, a lawyer for Evans said that she was disappointed by the district attorney's decision to "abandon" her client.
Weinstein says he is innocent. "Nor does it reflect on Lucia's consistent allegation that she was sexually assaulted with force by Harvey Weinstein".
Remaining charges include allegations Weinstein raped a woman in 2013 and forced a sex act on a different woman in 2006.
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.
"The evidence shows that the criminal case against him is strong", the statement said.
But Evans' attorney said the decision does not "invalidate the truth of her claims". At the time, Vance cited a lack of supporting evidence, despite the existence of a clandestinely made recording of Weinstein discussing the episode with the woman.
Judge James Burke dismissed one of the six counts against him after the Manhattan D.A. agreed to drop it, and also pushed a key ruling to December, giving the defense more time to fight the charges.
New York Police officials poured on the pressure, too, saying publicly they believed they had gathered ample evidence to make an arrest.
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