NYPD vetting numerous Weinstein allegations: Source


The NYPD is investigating a number of possible leads involving allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, a law enforcement source said Thursday.

The source, who didn’t want to be identified, said the leads, including one coming from an attorney said to be representing a possible victim, were being vetted, but it was unclear at this point if they were credible.

The tips came after the department invited anyone with information about possible misconduct by Weinstein to come forward. 

The NYPD pursued a claim in 2015 by Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who said Weinstein touched her breasts at his TriBeCa office. In that case, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said there wasn’t enough evidence to sustain a prosecution.

Separately, the NYPD was trying to locate Lucia Stoller, a former aspiring actress. Stoller, known formerly by the surname Evans, alleged in a recent New Yorker article that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in the summer of 2004 in his Manhattan office. Detectives want to talk with Stoller, who may be out of the country, to assess the claims made in the article, a spokesman said.

The NYPD review follows revelations about Weinstein’s settlements with several women -- actress Rose McGowan among them -- over accusations of sexual harassment and assault, first reported by The New York Times on Oct. 5. Since, dozens of women, including A-listers Angelina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale and Gwyneth Paltrow, have spoken out about being harassed by the powerful producer when they were much younger.

The New Yorker article revealed that Battilana Gutierrez told police that Weinstein had lunged at her, groped her breasts and attempted to put his hand up her skirt during a casting meeting. Working with the NYPD’s Special Victims Division, Battilana Gutierrez wore a wire the next time she saw Weinstein in an attempt to get him to confess to the assault.

Weinstein is heard on the recording pressuring Battilana Gutierrez to come into his room at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. She tells him she doesn’t want to and asks him why he groped her the day before.

“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in,” Weinstein can be heard saying. “I’m used to that. Come on. Please.”

“I won’t do it again,” he says later.

That recording wasn’t enough to file charges, though, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

“While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law,” Manhattan Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman-Agnifilo said Tuesday.

“In all deference to DA Vance, after reviewing contents of the tape recording, this was a highly prosecutable case,” said James DiPietro, a defense attorney and former Nassau assistant district attorney.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he didn’t have details about why the NYPD’s 2015 investigation wasn’t enough to charge Weinstein.

“From what little I do know, the NYPD pursued this very vigorously,” he said Thursday. “I don’t know what happened between the DA and NYPD.”

Vance spokeswoman Joan Vollero said the office intended to work with the NYPD on any new complaints against Weinstein.

Sex crime cases are difficult to make, legal experts said. State statistics show that city prosecutors bring charges in about half the first-degree rape case arrests and that only half of those cases lead to convictions. They decline to prosecute about 5 to 15 percent of sex cases.

Manhattan defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said he defends about five sex crime cases a year, with most reduced to nonsexual charges.

“It is very rare that they get a conviction,” Lichtman said.

Weinstein, 65, is also being investigated by London’s Metropolitan Police, according to the Guardian. Asked about the report, a spokesman for London’s Metropolitan Police said: “The Metropolitan Police Service was passed an allegation of sexual assault by Merseyside Police on Wednesday, 11 October. The allegation will be assessed by officers from the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command.”

Weinstein, through his spokeswoman, has denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex.

With Matthew Chayes and Reuters

 

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