The former lead detective in the Harvey Weinstein sexual-assault investigation told a woman who accused the movie mogul of rape to delete messages and data from multiple cell phones before giving them to prosecutors, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
The alleged victim did not delete the messages and alerted her attorney because she felt uncomfortable with the request, according to a letter the D.A.’s office was required to send Weinstein’s attorney and file in court. The letter was released publicly on Wednesday afternoon.
The woman, identified only as “Complainant 2,” is the subject behind three of the mogul’s five counts of sex-related offenses: predatory sexual assault, rape in the first degree, and rape in the third degree. Her accusations stem from an incident that allegedly took place in Weinstein’s hotel room in Manhattan on March 18, 2013.
She is the second alleged victim whose interactions with NYPD Det. Nicholas DiGaudio have come under scrutiny.
Last Thursday, the D.A.’s Office released evidence that DiGaudio advised a witness not to come forward with testimony that undermined one of the six charges against Weinstein. Prosecutors also said that DiGaudio failed to inform them about the potentially exculpatory evidence, and a judge dismissed the count against Weinstein as a result.
The day after DiGaudio’s actions were revealed in court, a lawyer for another accuser in the case called the D.A.’s office and said his client had new information related to DiGaudio.
Sometime last year, prosecutors had requested the woman turn over any cell phones that she used during the time she interacted with Weinstein. At the time, the woman had been concerned about sharing some of the data on her phone, which the letter describes as “private” and “of a personal nature.” After conveying her concerns to DiGaudio, according to the letter, he told her victim to “delete anything she did not want anyone to see,” before handing over the phones to the D.A.’s office.
“We just won’t tell Joan,” DiGaudio allegedly said, referring to Joan Illuzzi, the assistant district attorney prosecuting the Weinstein case.
The woman told prosecutors that she did not delete anything from her cell phones and that DiGaudio did not at all influence her testimony before a grand jury. The D.A.’s office said the phones remain in custody.
The revelation could further undermine the D.A.’s already shrunken case against Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by more than 80 women.
“This new development even further undermines the integrity of an already deeply flawed Indictment of Mr. Weinstein," Weinstein’s attorney Benjamin Brafman told The Daily Beast in an email. Weinstein has denied all accusations of sexual assault and misconduct.
Brafman has previously told reporters that he intends to file motions to dismiss all of the charges against his client. At the hearing last week, he succeeded in knocking the sixth count off the case: criminal sexual act in the first degree. The allegation came from Lucia Evans, an Irish-Zimbabwean actress who claimed that Weinstein had forced her to engage in oral sex during the summer of 2004, but it was dismissed when prosecutors released a letter to Brafman, detailing DiGaudio’s misconduct.
According to those documents, DiGaudio spoke to a witness last year, who claimed that Evans had reported the alleged rape to her not long after it allegedly happened and described the oral sex as consensual in exchange for a movie role. If true, the act would not have involved “forcible compulsion” element of the crime and would compromise Evans’ testimony. But DiGaudio reportedly did not tell prosecutors about the witness until after a grand jury had indicted Weinstein.
The disclosure letter sent to Brafman last week was reviewed by DiGaudio and he could have refuted assertions that he withheld evidence and did not, a senior law enforcement official said. It was not clear if DiGaudio had been asked to review the letter filed Wednesday.
The head of the union that represents DiGaudio told The Daily Beast that the detective says the woman was concerned about personal information on her phone that was not related to Weinstein.
"A woman should not have to surrender confidential intimate information thats immaterial to the case to defend herself against a sexual predator," Detectives’ Endowment Association President Michael Palladino said in a statement Wednesday evening. "That’s being victimized twice. Detective DiGaudio was sensitive to that."
DiGaudio is no longer working on the case and the NYPD is in the process of conducting an internal investigation to determine if his actions violated department policy. In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the NYPD did not address the allegations against DiGaudio, restating what it said last week: “The evidence against Mr. Weinstein is compelling and strong. The NYPD will continue its work with the prosecution to deliver justice for the courageous survivors who have bravely come forward.”
A senior law enforcement official told The Daily Beast last week that DiGaudio’s behavior looked like he was “coaching one of the witnesses to change her story or downplay the story,” which he described as “unprecedented” in a case like Weinstein’s. At the time, the official believed DiGaudio’s involvement was limited to Evans’ charges, and had little to do with the other two victims. The new evidence indicates that DiGaudio was more involved than previously thought.
The next court date is set for December 20, where a judge will determine whether to keep or dismiss the remaining five counts.