A bombshell New Yorker report on the alleged sexual assaults of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein could land the Manhattan district attorney in hot water.
Cyrus Vance Jr., the district attorney for New York County, declined to file charges against Weinstein in 2015 after Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez reported that Weinstein assaulted her.
But The New Yorker revealed on Tuesday that during the police investigation of the reported assault, police obtained an audio recording of Weinstein appeared to acknowledge that he groped Gutierrez.
The article features three women who accuse Weinstein of rape, and it also includes numerous allegations of sexual assault and harassment against the producer. The New Yorker story follows a New York Times report last week that described decades of sexual assault allegations against Weinstein, which the producer denied.
Vance’s decision not to file charges in Gutierrez’s case didn’t sit well with two sources involved in the investigation.
“We had the evidence,” one of the sources told The New Yorker. “It’s a case that made me angrier than I thought possible, and I have been on the force a long time.”
In the audio recording, captured by a police wire Gutierrez was wearing, Weinstein can be heard pressuring Gutierrez to enter his hotel room. At one point, the Italian asks him why he groped her the day before.
“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in,” Weinstein says. “I’m used to that. Come on. Please.”
“You’re used to that?” Gutierrez asks, sounding incredulous.
“Yes,” Weinstein says. He later adds, “I won’t do it again.”
But Vance’s office said at the time that there wasn’t enough evidence to support charging Weinstein.
“This case was taken seriously from the outset, with a thorough investigation conducted by our Sex Crimes Unit,” Vance’s office said. “After analysing the available evidence, including multiple interviews with both parties, a criminal charge is not supported.”
On Tuesday, Manhattan’s District Attorney office released a statement standing by the 2015 decision.
“While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent,” the office said. “Subsequent investigative steps undertaken in order to establish intent were not successful. This, coupled with other proof issues, meant that there was no choice but to conclude the investigation without criminal charges.”
Last week, the International Business Times reported that in the months after Vance’s decision not to charge Weinstein, a lawyer for Weinstein donated $US10,000 to Vance’s reelection campaign. The lawyer, David Boies, has donated more than $US50,000 to Vance since 2005, and his son and law firm partners have donated $US130,000 more to the district attorney, the IB Times reported.
But Boies’ law firm denied any connection between the donation and Vance’s decision not to charge Weinstein.
“David Boies has been a supporter of the District Attorney since long before 2015, including before he was first elected, and has never spoken to him about Harvey Weinstein,” a spokesperson for the law firm Boies Schiller Flexne told the IB Times.
Additionally, Vance’s communications director told the outlet that “David Boies did not represent Harvey Weinstein in 2015 during the criminal investigation.”
Killed Trump investigation
Tuesday’s report is the second time this month Vance has been the subject of an explosive report.
Last week, ProPublica, WNYC, and The New Yorker reported that in 2012, Vance dropped an investigation into two of President Donald Trump’s children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., who prosecutors said misled potential buyers of one of their properties in New York.
Prosecutors in Vance’s office had collected two years’ worth of evidence and were reportedly on the verge of indicting the Trump children on federal fraud charges. But Vance overruled his staff and declined to file charges following a meeting with Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz.
Kasowitz had previously donated $US25,000 to Vance’s reelection campaign, according to the report. Just before the meeting with Kasowitz, Vance reportedly returned the donation. But less than six months after Vance dropped the Trump case, Kasowitz again contributed to the district attorney’s campaign, donating and raising more than $US50,000 for Vance.
Vance maintains he made the right call in dropping the Trump case, and said accusations of unethical conduct have “no connection to reality.”
Vance is up for reelection in November. He is running unopposed.
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