It's been over six months since disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and his decades of sexual misconduct have been made public, but a new report surfaced over the weekend that revealed a case was built against Weinstein three years ago. But New York County district attorney, Cyrus Vance, refused to prosecute him. The Time's Up organization has written an open letter to New York governor Andrew Cuomo to open an investigation into Cyrus Vance, who, despite a preponderance of evidence, refused to prosecute Harvey Weinstein after Italian model Ambra Battilana came forward and said he sexually assaulted her in 2015. Here's the first part of Times Up's open letter below.
"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, Ambra Battilana. Reports that District Attorney Cyrus Vance could have been improperly influenced by Mr. Weinstein and/or his representatives, and that senior officials within the DA's office may have sought to intimidate Battilana are particularly disturbing and merit investigation. Similarly, reports that the New York Police Department, chose to isolate Battilana from Vance's staff because they feared his office was actively working to discredit her story demand immediate scrutiny."
This open letter comes just days after a report in New York Magazine revealed that Ambra Battilana filed a complaint against Harvey Weinstein in late March 2015, stating that the producer groped her breasts and put his hand under her skirt, asking for a kiss. When she refused, he claimed he was a very powerful man and that he could be making her $2 million a year.
That meeting ended with Weinstein telling his assistant to secure Battilana a ticket to the Broadway show Finding Neverland, but while she was giving her account to detectives, she received an email from Weinstein, asking why she didn't show up at the theater. She responded that she didn't have his phone number, and when he replied with his number, the detectives walked her through a "controlled call," where he admitted to feeling her breasts and that also set up a meeting the next day at the Tribeca Grand Hotel that was being watched by New York's Special Victims Division, which was lead by Michael Osgood.
After the meeting, where Weinstein admitted to fondling her breasts, Weinstein was approached by two detectives, asking him to come to a station house. While he initially refused, stating he would call the police commissioner, the detectives bluffed and said the commissioner already knew he was there, he agreed to go with them. When Battalina's name was mentioned at the station house, he told detectives that they were putting their jobs in jeopardy by "messing" with him, but once Battalina's name was mentioned, he invoked his right to counsel, retaining two lawyers with ties to the D.A.'s office and Martha Bashford, the head of the DA's sex-crimes unit.
Bashford herself conducted an interview with Battalina, while Vance's investigators also interviewed her. According to Michael Bock, one of only six members of the NYPD that had access to the investigation, Vance's team grilled her with accusatory questions that made her feel like a victim, and just a few days later, Bashford told Osgood and his team that Vance was not prosecuting the case against Weinstein. Here's the remainder of Times Up's open letter below.
"An independent investigation into the full decision-making process in this case, including a full review of the correspondence within the office and with any representatives for Mr. Weinstein, must be undertaken immediately to ensure that prosecutorial integrity was maintained and to restore faith in the DA's office. We are concerned that what appears to be the negative relationship between the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the Special Victims Unit of the NYPD 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. Greater awareness of sexual abuse crimes is essential, but it is hollow and can even be a deterrent if survivors cannot access justice through fair and unbiased prosecution. Given the multitude of credible reports of Mr. Weinstein's behaviors after the DA's decision not to prosecute in this case, arguably his continued victimization of others could have been avoided. There will only be real consequences for abusive behavior when our public officials, sworn to uphold the law, care as much about the rights of the victim as concerns for the accused."
After the first report in October revealing Harvey Weinstein's decades worth of sexual misconduct, 14 women came forward to the New York Police Department and filed sexual assault complaints against Weinstein, which Osgood has personally conducted with his two best investigators, Sergeant Keri Thompson and Detective Nicholas DiGaudio. While several of these cases passed the limits for statutes of limitations, there are currently five cases that are sitting with Vance, waiting for a decision on whether or not he will move forward. The open letter from Times Up debuted in The Cut last night.