Judge Sends McGowan Drug Case to Grand Jury

After hearing two hours of testimony from six witnesses, Judge Dean S. Worcester today sent actress Rose McGowan’s felony cocaine possession charge to a grand jury for review.

McGowan was charged in February 2017 after a wallet with two plastic baggies of cocaine and McGowan’s California driver’s license was found onboard a Boeing-767 parked at a Dulles Airport gate after passengers had disembarked a United Airlines flight.

McGowan has said the drugs could have been planted. She was the first woman to publicly claim she was sexually assaulted by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, effectively kicking off the Me Too movement that resulted in Weinstein’s banishment and calls to end sexual harassment and abuse.

In court Thursday, McGowan’s attorney, Jessica Carmichael, argued that there was no evidence McGowan was ever aware of the “presence or character of the substance” in the wallet and that the Loudoun courts lacked jurisdiction on the matter.

Rebecca Thatcher, an attorney from Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, said the county has jurisdiction in the case because Dulles Airport is located in Loudoun. She also argued that there was more than enough evidence, since McGowan was clearly seen from video footage exiting the plane.

Carmichael argued that the case was “so obviously flawed from its inception.” She said the wallet at some point was either lost or stolen, and presumably tampered with. “There simply is no evidence that McGowan ever possessed the drugs,” she said.

Carmichael also argued that the county shouldn’t have jurisdiction because it would be impossible to determine over which state the crime actually occurred. “We have no idea when that point in time was,” she said. “Jurisdiction cannot be established based on speculation,” she said.

Witnesses in the hearing included Toffic Yeseuf, a shift lead with Air Serv Corp. who cleans airplanes after passengers have exited. He said he found the small wallet under a first-class seat last January. Yeseuf said he then radioed his supervisor, Lashay Boatwright, who said she saw small baggies of a white powdery substance inside the wallet. Boatwright said she then called MWAA.

MWAA Fire Fighters Benjamin Young and David Schuler testified that the powder tested positive for cocaine. MWAA Police Corporal Amelio Artis said that he then took the wallet to the police station.

Detective Hughes from MWAA’s criminal investigation section said he conducted an investigation, in which he watched video footage of passengers exiting the plane and found one woman with short hair to look similar to the photo on the driver’s license found in the wallet.

Worcester made it clear that the preliminary hearing was only to determine whether the evidence showed there was probable cause to continue prosecuting the case. The next step is a review by a Loudoun grand jury, scheduled to meet June 12. If indicted, McGowan’s case will move to Circuit Court for trial.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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