Would the Manhattan district attorney had prosecuted “Harvey Schmuck” with the evidence gathered by police in 2015? The Harvey Weinstein scandal has provoked a war of words between the DA’s office and the New York Police Department over the last 24 hours. After both the New York Daily News and the New Yorker published accounts of an undercover recording of the Hollywood mogul making an admission of a previous sexual assault — and the fact that the DA passed on pressing charges — the demand for answers has crescendoed sharply.
The chief assistant DA says that the NYPD blew the case by not coordinating with her office (via Twitchy):
Statement from Manhattan Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman-Agnifilo on 2015 Harvey Weinstein allegations pic.twitter.com/PeCUCk6ywj
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) October 10, 2017
Friedman-Agnifilo accuses NYPD detectives of failing to get proper direction on the surveillance, and that the recording — while “horrifying” — was “insufficient to prove a crime under New York law.” The DA’s investigation failed to turn up any more evidence except that which tended to damage the credibility of the complainant, model-actress Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. Thanks to NYPD bungling, Freidman-Agnifilo concludes, their office had “no choice but to conclude the investigation without criminal charges.”
Utter nonsense, the NYPD responded. Their special victims unit has plenty of experience in dealing with sexual-assault allegations, at least those involving people whose names don’t rhyme with Shmarvey Shmeinstein. Actually, one anonymous NYPD source put it more colorfully than that:
Members of the NYPD familiar with the case were furious at the suggestion that their work was subpar and said prosecutors were responsible for the softball treatment afforded the Hollywood bigwig.
“Ask the DA if they would have made the arrest if the guy’s name was Harvey Schmuck,” one police official said.
A former prosecutor in Friedman-Agnifilo’s office agrees with the NYPD on this one, reports the Daily News:
Former Manhattan prosecutor Mark Bederow agreed the recording should have been plenty to bring a case against the film industry exec since he believes it alone provides the context necessary to show Weinstein’s state of mind.
“The recording depicts an aggressive and domineering Hollywood mogul bent on getting a terrified young woman up to his room while he showers. He warns her not to embarrass him — that she will never see him again — as he casually and dismissively admits that he grabbed her breasts because he is ‘used to it,’ ” Bederow said.
Now, however, Friedman-Agnifilo wants to hear from more of Weinstein’s victims:
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which is under fire for its handling of a sex assault allegation against Harvey Weinstein in 2015, is now urging other Weinstein victims to come forward.
In a statement, Chief Assistant D.A. Karen Friedman Agnifilo blasted Weinstein’s “pattern of mistreating women,” saying it was “disgraceful and shocks the conscience.”
“Any individual who feels that she may have been the victim of a crime by this person in Manhattan is strongly encouraged to contact our Office’s Sex Crimes Hotline at (212) 335-9373,” Agnifilo said.
Perhaps they may want to stick with the NYPD, at least until the Manhattan DA’s office explains what happened with Cyrus Vance Jr and David Boies. As David Sirota and Jay Cassano reported last week for IB Times, Weinstein’s lawyer dropped a $10,000 donation into Vance’s campaign after the DA declined to prosecute the Weinstein case:
Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer delivered $10,000 to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. in 2015, in the months after Vance’s office decided not to prosecute Weinstein over sexual assault allegations, according to an International Business Times review of campaign finance documents. That contribution from attorney David Boies — who previously headlined a fundraiser for Vance — was a fraction of the more than $182,000 that Boies, his son and his law partners have delivered to the Democrat during his political career.
Boies has done legal work for Weinstein since at least 2005, and his website at his law firm says his clients include The Weinstein Company. …
Among the allegations that the newspaper recounted was one in 2015, in which Italian model Ambra Battilana accused Weinstein of groping her. Battilana contacted law enforcement officials, but in April of 2015, Vance’s office declined to bring charges against Weinstein, saying that “after analyzing the available evidence, including multiple interviews with both parties, a criminal charge is not supported.”
Soon after, Boies made a big donation to Vance: Campaign finance records show that Boies gave the district attorney’s campaign $10,000 on August 24, 2015. In all, Boies has given $55,000 to Vance’s campaigns since he first began running for office in 2008. Boies co-chaired a 2008 fundraiser for Vance. Since Vance began running for district attorney, Boies’ son Christopher has given Vance’s campaigns $35,000. Boies’ law firm partners who gave to Vance included Jonathan Schiller ($26,000), Nicholas Gravante ($4,000) and Robert Silver ($62,785). Silver passed away in 2015.
Were those donations the fault of the NYPD, too? Let’s put it this way: it’s pretty clear that Vance knew he wasn’t dealing with Harvey Schmuck.