Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

District Attorney Defends Decision Not to Prosecute Harvey Weinstein

Embattled Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance doubled down Wednesday on his decision not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein on sex crime charges, despite what he called "sickening" audio of the Hollywood mogul essentially confessing to groping an Italian model.

He denied specifically that any donations to his campaign had or would ever influence his decisions.

Vance's office has faced criticism for accepting a $10,000 donation from David Boies, an attorney for Weinstein, in August 2015, according to campaign financial disclosure forms from the New York State Board of Elections.

The NYPD blasted in turn Vance's office, insisting detectives used "well established investigative techniques" and that the audio "was just one aspect of the case" again Weinstein. Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for Vance, said in a statement that Boies was not Weinstein's lawyer in that criminal case.

The Manhattan district attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting for The New Yorker, Ronan Farrow detailed a 2015 NYPD sting operation in which model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez secretly recorded Harvey Weinstein trying to persuade her to come back to his hotel room. But if NY district attorneys' offices are to live up to our country's ostensible commitment to "equal justice under law", then low-income people of color are entitled to the same burden of proof, the same presumption of innocence and the same exercise of prosecutorial discretion as Mr. Weinstein.

Weinstein was sacked from his namesake production company, the Weinstein Company, on Sunday after an investigation by the New York Times found that a series of women had accused him of sexual harassment over three decades.

"I, like they, were very disturbed by the contents of the tape".

The NYPD confirmed that it investigated a "misdemeanor sexual abuse complaint against Harvey Weinstein" in March 2015.

But a Democratic district attorney candidate in Brooklyn, Marc Fliedner, also said Vance should go, saying the recent revelations "really go to a failure for women to be properly protected, in exchange for campaign contributions".

The National Organization for Women of NY will hold the demonstration outside Manhattan Criminal Court at noon to protest the DA's decision not to bring charges against the film titan. This evidence, along with other statements and timeline information was presented to the office of the Manhattan District Attorney.

"While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under NY law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent", Friedman said in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon.

Vance returned $32,000 to Kasowitz last week.

Vance denied in the report that the dropping of the investigation was a quid pro quo for the contributions.

Wielding power over the powerful, Vance, who has generally led his office with integrity and who now runs unopposed for reelection, must better assure voters that his judgment sways not an inch in the face of deep-pocketed intimidators.

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