One of the six counts that now-disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is facing has been dropped by the Manhattan district attorney after new evidence emerged that cast doubt on one of the three women accusing him of sexual assault.
Appearing in court while wearing a Global Positioning System monitor and out on a $1m (£757,000) bail, the judge agreed to throw out the charge relating to Lucia Evans, who has accused Weinstein of forcing her to perform oral sex in 2004.
In addition to the three allegations in this case, Weinstein has faced accusations of sexual harassment and assault from dozens of actresses, including Rose McGowan, Salma Hayek, Annabella Sciorra, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
The former Miramax boss faces up to life in prison on charges of rape, predatory sex assault and criminal sex acts for the alleged attack on Evans and two other women.
But a prior employer of Evans turned over the personal writings she'd left on the company computer, which appear to contradict her grand jury testimony, a law enforcement source said. "Nor does it reflect on Lucia's consistent allegation that she was sexually assaulted with force by Harvey Weinstein", said attorney Carrie Goldberg.
Evans claims Weinstein forced himself on her, but the witness says otherwise.
Following the hearing, the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance made public a letter it had sent to Brafman last month disclosing that an unnamed witness had told them that she had heard an account of the alleged assault from Evans that was different from the one Evans originally gave to Vance's office. Rather, "it only speaks volumes about the Manhattan D.A.'s office and its mishandling of my client's case".
Prosecutors said in a letter unsealed Thursday that they learned weeks ago that a female friend who was with Evans the night she met Weinstein had given a police detective a contradictory account of what happened.
"The integrity of these proceedings has been compromised", he said.
Speaking outside court later, Brafman said Evans should be criminally prosecuted for perjury, insisting it was "not about victim shaming".
Predicting the judge may throw out all of the allegations, Weinstein's lawyer Ben Brafman told reporters: "This is obviously a very positive development".
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is free on $1 million bail.
Mr Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 70 women.
This decision comes after Weinstein's lawyers argued that there are legal problems with the criminal case against him.
Vance has already been fiercely criticized for declining to prosecute Weinstein when an Italian model accused him of grabbing her breasts in 2015.
New York Police officials poured on the pressure, too, saying publicly they believed they had gathered ample evidence to make an arrest.