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Detective in Harvey Weinstein case allegedly urged accuser to delete cellphone info

Harvey Weinstein and attorney Benjamin Brafman arrive at State Supreme Court, June 5, 2018 in New York City. Weinstein pleaded not guilty to rape charges.

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Last Updated Oct 17, 2018 5:58 PM EDT

NEW YORK — New York prosecutors say the former lead police detective in the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault investigation urged one of Weinstein's accusers to delete information from her phone before turning it over to investigators. Prosecutors say the woman didn't delete any information, which was personal and not related to the investigation.

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.

DiGaudio was removed from the Weinstein case last week after evidence surfaced that he instructed a witness to keep quiet when she raised doubts about a claim of sexual assault against the disgraced movie mogul by another accuser, Lucia Evans. That revelation led prosecutors to drop a charge related to that allegation.

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."

There was no immediate response from DiGaudio's union or the New York City Police Department regarding the latest allegation of misconduct.

Illuzzi-Orbon told a judge Thursday that prosecutors wouldn't oppose dismissal of the count in the case involving Evans, reported CBS New York. She insisted the rest of the case, involving the two other accusers, was strong. Weinstein, who has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex, still faces charges over the alleged 2013 rape and allegations that he performed a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006.

"In short, your honor, we are moving full steam ahead," she said.

In an expose published in The New Yorker last year, 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. She said she had initially met Weinstein at a restaurant in Manhattan earlier that summer.

Prosecutors said in a letter unsealed last week that they learned weeks ago that a female friend who was with Evans the night she met Weinstein had given the police detective a contradictory account of what happened.

Prosecutors said the detective didn't share that information with prosecutors and urged the witness not to reveal details, saying "less is more."

In a statement last week, a lawyer for Evans said her client has consistently maintained that she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein and accused the district attorney's office of mishandling the case. In a statement released to CBS New York last week, the New York Police Department said it is "fully confident in the overall case it had pursued against Mr. Weinstein."