EXCLUSIVE: Rose McGowan files motion to have Va. drug possession charge dropped

LEESBURG, Va. — Actress-activist Rose McGowan has asked that a Loudoun County judge dismiss her felony cocaine possession charge, suggesting the drug was planted, and her lawyer saying “there is simply no point in time at which the evidence places Ms. McGowan and the cocaine together in the same place.”

According to charging documents, a plane-cleaning crew found McGowan’s wallet next to her seat after she got off a flight at Dulles International Airport on Jan. 20, 2017. McGowan had flown from Los Angeles to take part in last year’s Women’s March, the day after President Donald Trump took office.

Airport police said the wallet contained two small bags of white powder, which tested positive for cocaine.

In a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, filed Tuesday in district court, McGowan’s co-counsel Jessica Carmichael suggested the cocaine was planted in McGowan’s wallet, perhaps by someone working for movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

McGowan was one of the first women to publicly say she was raped by Weinstein.

“At all times Ms. McGowan has maintained her innocence,” Carmichael wrote. “Unfortunately, Ms. McGowan’s situation is complicated by the Harvey Weinstein machine.”

Citing an article in The Guardian, entitled “Harvey Weinstein had secret hitlist of names to quash sex scandal,” McGowan’s attorneys said she was targeted by the now-disgraced producer.

“The names (including McGowan’s) apparently drawn up by Weinstein himself, were distributed to a team hired by the film producer to suppress claims that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women,” according to the article.

McGowan’s attorneys offer no independent proof in the motion supporting the article’s allegation, although it is likely the defense has hired its own investigators to look into Weinstein’s potential involvement in McGowan’s case.

“There was an incredible lapse of time — at least over five hours — between when Ms. McGowan last possessed the wallet (which is unknown) and when it was handed to the police,” Carmichael wrote. “The severity of these issues increases further, knowing that there were individuals specifically employed to target Ms. McGowan.”

Her attorney wrote that prosecutors have no evidence that McGowan ever possessed the cocaine.

“Even assuming, only for the sake of argument, that she did possess the cocaine at some point in time, it would have been prior to the cocaine being on the floor of the plane at Dulles International Airport.”

When a crime is committed on an aircraft, and the state over which it is flying at that time cannot be determined, Carmichael said that falls under the special aircraft jurisdiction of the federal courts.

“There is no evidence Ms. McGowan possessed this cocaine at all, let alone possessed it in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Carmichael concluded. “Therefore, this case belongs in no court, and certainly not a court in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Last month, Loudoun County prosecutor Jim Plowman recused himself in McGowan’s upcoming trial because McGowan’s co-counsel, James Hundley, represents Plowman in an ongoing federal civil rights case.

Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert’s office will try McGowan, as special prosecutor, in an upcoming motions hearing on March 12 in Loudoun County District Court.

If convicted, Hundley has said McGowan faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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