A New York judge refused to throw out sexual-assault charges against disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein on Thursday, allowing prosecutors to move forward.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James Burke did not set a trial date, but did order Weinstein back to court on March 7 for the next pre-trial hearing.
Actresses Marisa Tomei, Jennifer Esposito, and Amber Tamblyn joined other women representing the "Times Up" group in court on Thursday to support Weinstein's accusers.
"Today’s ruling was a technical ruling on the law, and although disappointed, it does not in any way suggest that the case against Mr. Weinstein is going to end badly," defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman told reporters outside of court.
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"To the contrary, based on the evidence that I am aware of, I believe that if we proceed to trial, and I think we will fairly soon, I think Mr. Weinstein will be exonerated. "
Prosecutors declined to comment.
Before Thursday's brief hearing, Brafman had said the prosecution's case has been "irreparably tainted" by NYPD Det. Nicholas DiGaudio, who the defense has accused of improper conduct,
Back in October, one of six charges against Weinstein was dropped. Prosecutors admitted that Det. DiGaudio allegedly failed reveal to them an interview he did with a friend of accuser Lucia Evans, in a chat that raised doubts about the veracity of the allegations.
Prosecutors have also revealed hat DiGaudio urged the 2013 rape accuser to delete private material from her cellphones before handing them over to the Manhattan district attorney's office. Prosecutors said the material had nothing to do with Weinstein and the woman ended up handing over the phone with no deletions.
"The only reasonably prudent decision would be to stop this chaos now," Brafman said in a court filing ahead of Thursday's hearing.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Wilson has said "there is no possibility" that the allegations against DiGaudio "in any way impaired the integrity of the grand jury or prejudiced the defendant."
Weinstein is charged with raping a woman he knew in a hotel room in March 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman in 2006 at his Manhattan apartment.
The defense has denied the rape accusation, saying the unnamed accuser had a "multi-year, consensual sexual relationship" with Weinstein.
Weinstein, 66, has steadfastly denied all allegation of unlawful, non-consensual sexual activity.
A dismissal of the other five charges would have been a blow to Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr., who was criticized for declining to pursue criminal charges against Weinstein when he was accused of groping an Italian model in 2015.
Adam Reiss is a reporter and producer for NBC and MSNBC.
David K. Li
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.