NEW YORK — A New York City police union on Friday defended a detective accused of coaching a witness in the Harvey Weinstein investigation and then keeping prosecutors in the dark.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office dropped part of Weinstein's criminal case this week, saying the detective failed to tell them a witness had raised doubts about a charge that Weinstein forcibly sexually assaulted an aspiring actress, Lucia Evans, in his office in 2004.
In a letter unsealed on Thursday, prosecutors said Det. Nicholas DiGaudio had urged the witness not to tell her full story, advising her that "less is more."
The Detectives' Endowment Association fired back in a statement Friday, saying DiGaudio had told prosecutors everything he knew and wasn't trying to influence the investigation.
"He was simply trying to get to the truth," said union president Michael Palladino, who speculated that prosecutors had forgotten or ignored what DiGaudio told them.
In their letter, prosecutors said DiGaudio admitted he didn't tell them important details of his discussion with the witness. The witness told DiGaudio that sometime after an office meeting where Evans alleged Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex, Evans suggested what happened was consensual, according to the letter. Weinstein had promised to get Evans an acting job if she agreed to perform oral sex, and she agreed, the witness said, according to the letter.
Evans' lawyer, Carrie Goldberg, has denied that account. She said her client never consented to anything.
Weinstein lawyer Ben Brafman, reacting to the union statement, said: "We are not talking about faulty memory. We are talking about a conscious decision to withhold that information from (prosecutors)."
Palladino said Brafman was twisting DiGaudio's words and using what he's said out of context in an attempt to exonerate Weinstein.
Weinstein still faces five charges over allegations that he raped an unidentified woman in his Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006.
Weinstein denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
DiGaudio, who was one of two investigators who escorted Weinstein out of a police station and into court after his May arrest, is now embroiled in an internal police department investigation and is no longer involved in the Weinstein case.