NEW YORK (AP) — A police detective already facing allegations that he coached a witness in Harvey Weinstein's criminal sexual assault case was accused Wednesday of urging one of the movie mogul's accusers to delete material from her cell phones before she handed them over to prosecutors.
The Manhattan district attorney's office detailed the alleged misconduct in a letter to Weinstein's lawyer that was made public Wednesday.
The new allegations against Detective Nicholas DiGaudio involve an unidentified woman who says Weinstein raped her in his Manhattan hotel room in 2013.
In the letter, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said during the investigation, prosecutors asked the woman to hand in any mobile phones she might have used during the time when she interacted with Weinstein.
The woman, she said, was willing to do so, but was worried the phones contained, "in addition to communications with the defendant, data of a personal nature that she regarded as private."
She asked DiGaudio what to do. He advised her to delete anything she didn't want anyone else to see before handing over the phone, the prosecutors said.
"We just won't tell Joan," DiGaudio allegedly said.
Illuzzi-Orbon said the woman didn't delete any information and instead asked a lawyer for advice. The phones were turned over "without any deletions," Illuzzi-Orbon said.
The lawyer hired by the woman contacted the district attorney's office about the DiGaudio's conduct on Oct. 10.
Weinstein's lawyer Benjamin Brafman said the latest allegation against DiGaudio "even further undermines the integrity of this already deeply flawed indictment of Mr. Weinstein."
DiGaudio was removed from the Weinstein case last week after evidence surfaced that he urged a witness to keep quiet when she raised doubts about whether a different accuser's alleged sexual encounter with Weinstein was consensual.
That revelation led prosecutors to drop a charge related to that allegation.
There was no immediate response from the NYPD, but in a statement the president of the Detectives' Endowment Association defended DiGaudio and said the letter indicates the detective did not influence the accuser's evidence or testimony.
"The Manhattan DA's office needs to enter the 21st Century. This is the age of technology. People keep loads of personal info on their phones that they prefer remains confidential," Michael Palladino said. "A woman should not have to surrender confidential intimate information that's immaterial to the case to defend herself against a sexual predator. That's being victimized twice. Detective DiGaudio was sensitive to that."
"This appears to be just another smear campaign against Detective DiGaudio to cover up the Manhattan DA's own incompetence," Palladino added.