It appears that the first casualty of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal, may be none other than the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.
According to an explosive new article published by the New Yorker on Tuesday, Vance had evidence of Weinstein's sexually predatory behavior toward a woman, but didn’t pursue the case. The story describes how model and former Miss Italy contestant Ambra Battilana Gutierrez accepted a meeting with Weinstein in March 2015. During the meeting, she told New Yorker that Weinstein groped her breasts and put his hands up her skirt.
After the encounter, Gutierrez went to the New York Police Department, which counseled her to wear a wire and meet with Weinstein the next day at his hotel. The New Yorker published the recorded audio of their exchange.
“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in,” Weinstein tells Gutierrez. “I’m used to that. Come on. Please.”
“You’re used to that?” she replies.
“Yes,” Weinstein says. He later adds, “I won’t do it again.”
A police investigation was launched, at which point hit pieces about Gutierrez’s past began to appear in the tabloids, she said. After two weeks, Vance didn’t file any charges.
In a statement issued at the time, the DA’s office said that “this case was taken seriously from the outset, with a thorough investigation conducted by our Sex Crimes Unit. After analyzing the available evidence, including multiple interviews with both parties, a criminal charge is not supported.” Yet a police source close to the investigation told the magazine the NYPD had the evidence. “It’s a case that made me angrier than I thought possible, and I have been on the force a long time,” the source said.
Gutierrez couldn’t comment further since she had signed a nondisclosure agreement with Weinstein, “including an affidavit stating that the acts Weinstein admits to in the recording never happened,” the article says.
As storm clouds grew in ther aftermath of the New Yorker article, Chief Assistant DA Karen Freedman Agnifilo said Tuesday in a statement that “if we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have.” Agnifilo went on to say that what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law because it did not establish criminal intent.
“Subsequent investigative steps undertaken in order to establish intent were not successful,” she said.
Statement by Chief ADA Karen Friedman Agnifilo on allegations against Harvey Weinstein — pic.twitter.com/4kLfEk60re— Cyrus Vance, Jr. (@ManhattanDA) October 10, 2017
In other words, the DA's office - suddenly sweating in the public spotlight - tried to pass responsibility for the botched case to the NYPD who "without our knowledge or input - arranged a controlled call and meeting between the complainant and Mr. Weinstein."
However, the NYPD has no intention of being the DA's patsy, and moments ago the New York Police Department issued a statement regarding the 2015 Weinstein investigation which led nowhere, in which it said that "the case was carried out by experienced detectives and supervisors from NYPD's Special Victims Unit. The detectives used well established investigative techniques" and in doing so sent the ball right back in Vance's court, and with it the onus of explaining just why he failed to prosecute Weinstein when - at least according to the NYPD - he had the case handed to him on a silver platter.
"The case was carried out by experienced detectives and supervisors from NYPD's Special Victims Unit. The detectives used well established investigative techniques. The recorded conversation with the subject corroborates the acts that were the basis for the victim's complaint to the police a day earlier. This follow-up recorded conversation was just one aspect of the case against the subject. This evidence, along with other statements and timeline information was presented to the office of the Manhattan District Attorney."
To this unexpected development, all we can say is that it will be delightfully ironic if the downfall of Weinstein also ends up being the much needed catharsis which also takes down countless corrupt officials responsible for enforcing the law in the city of New York.
As for Weinstein, he may soon end up in prison as he now appears to be on the hook for criminal charges, as a result of the allegation brought up by an actress also documented by the New Yorker, according to whom she was forced to give Weinstein oral sex in his Tribeca office.
Lucia Evans told The New Yorker that Weinstein exposed himself and pushed her head into his lap during a solo meeting at the old Miramax office in 2004. “He forced me to perform oral sex on him,” she said.
“If the allegations are true … they would support a prosecution for criminal sexual act in the first degree,” Daniel Alonso, a former top prosecutor with the Manhattan DA’s Office, told the NY Post. A conviction on the charge carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison.
Meanwhile, here is the statement that was just released by the Obamas on Weinstein's sexual allegations: