Cuomo directs AG probe of 2015 Weinstein case


The Manhattan District Attorney's Office is hitting back at an explosive New York Magazine report claiming that it failed to prosecute Harvey Weinstein in 2015 for alleged sexual harassment because of the indie mogul's political connections.

The article, "To Catch a Predator", explains that SVD Commander Michael Osgood "believed that Vance and his office were actively working to discredit" model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who filed a police report against Weinstein after he allegedly groped her in his Weinstein Company office in March 2015.

"It is critical not only that these cases are given the utmost attention but also that there is public confidence in the handling of these cases", Cuomo said in a statement.

The letter added that doubts about the DA's treatment of Battilana "makes it even less likely that victims who have been assaulted by rich or powerful men will be willing to come forward and that their assailants will be prosecuted and convicted".

Last October, The New Yorker published the recording obtained from the NYPD sting operation, where Weinstein can be heard admitting to groping Battilana Gutierrez.

TIME'S Up, a global organization dedicated to ending workplace sexual harassment and abuse, calls on the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, to launch an independent investigation of the New York County District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, and the office of the District Attorney to determine the facts related to the decision not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein for sexual abuse crimes against one of his accusers, Amber Battilana. Following criticism over the decision previous year, prosecutors said police arranged the sting without their knowledge and there were other proof issues, but police pushed back saying they had presented enough evidence.

The New York-headquartered film studio had teetered on the brink of bankruptcy since Weinstein's career went down in flames last October.

Reports have said that the NYPD is ready to arrest Weinstein for another case with a woman who says she was forced to perform oral sex, but that Vance has not signed off on the decision.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the directive on Monday, hours after Time's Up, an initiative started by Hollywood industry women, asked for the review. Disagreements happen, but they don't undermine justice, he said.

Police and prosecutors play different roles, Frost said. Police have said the case should have been prosecuted; the district attorney's office disagreed.

Weinstein's attorneys have said he denies any non-consensual contact.

The studio also said it was immediately releasing accusers from non-disclosure agreements which Weinstein had used to silence them, allowing women to speak up without fear of retaliation.

"We are deeply familiar with Harvey Weinstein's years of egregious sexual abuse, and recently filed a civil rights lawsuit against him alleging severe and persistent abuse of employees at the Weinstein Company", the statement said.

Time's Up - which is both a pressure group and legal defense fund - has no official leader, but was formed in January by stars including Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, America Ferrera, Eva Longoria, Ashley Judd, Rashida Jones, Emma Stone, Natalie Portman and Kerry Washington.

The Weinstein Company Holdings LLC announced that it has filed for voluntary bankruptcy and entered into an agreement to sell its assets to a Dallas-based equity firm.