Shortly after prominent film figure Harvey Weinstein allegedly groped 22-year-old Ambra Battilana during an encounter in New York last week, the producer was the subject of an NYPD sting operation, and did not deny the accusation, according to a new report.
The Italian model and aspiring actress claims the 63-year-old married father of five asked for a kiss, before touching her breasts and crotch during a “business meeting” at his Tribeca office Friday night. Weinstein spoke to police the following day, and denied the claim.
The New York Daily News reported Thursday a conversation recorded by the NYPD, between the Weinstein Co. exec and the Italian beauty, shows he did not deny the incident.
“He didn’t deny doing what she said he did to her,” an anonymous source told the Daily News of the alleged phone call. “The content of the phone call, there’s no question about what he did.”
After some convincing, Battilana arranged a meeting with Weinstein at the Tribeca Grand Hotel restaurant, where officers watched from afar, according to the publication. The paper’s source also indicated it was clear from the conversation that Weinstein had made physical contact with his accuser.
“If he denies it, if he says he didn’t touch her breasts and privates, he’s toast,” the person asserted.
The monitored phone call and the restaurant rendezvous reportedly occurred at some point between Battilana’s initial police visit on Friday, and Weinstein’s voluntary conversation with officers on Saturday. He reportedly held a brief meeting with the officers and promised full cooperation with the investigation, before requesting his attorney.
It is not immediately clear if Weinstein knew he was being monitored for the phone conversation, or his in-person meeting with the woman.
Representatives for Weinstein have dismissed Battilana as an opportunist with no credibility. A person affiliated with The Weinstein Company told Page Six earlier this week the allegations were a “blackmail attempt,” and insisted that the Pulp Fiction producer “did nothing wrong.”
Another person close to the producer told the Daily News Thursday: “I couldn’t be more confident that nothing untoward happened with Harvey and that this is a setup like we’ve never seen… I think it’s pretty clear that it’s part of a pattern.”
The pair had met a day prior to the alleged assault, when Weinstein invited the model to his office for the business meeting on Friday. A security camera captured both Battilana’s entrance into the building at 6 p.m. Friday, and her and rapid exit 31 minutes later, a source said this week.
The young woman reportedly placed a telephone call to a friend as she left the Tribeca building, and was “very upset.” She immediately went to the police.
A source close to the Battilana said Tuesday the accuser isn’t intimidated by Weinstein’s standing within the industry. She “knows that Harvey has money and power and that he’s going to come after her… she’s confident… She’s not afraid of Harvey.”
Attorney Martha Bashford, of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Unit, met with Battilana this week. “They’re taking this very seriously,” the accuser’s attorney, David Godosky said of the investigation. “ADA Bashford is a top-drawer prosecutor. If I were the victim or the target defendant, I would assume they are taking it very seriously.”
Former sex crimes prosecutor Matthew Galluzzo told the Daily News Weinstein could face misdemeanor charges of forcible touching or sexual abuse if the investigation finds the claims credible.
“I think they’re probably going to give Harvey Weinstein and his lawyer an opportunity to respond,” said Galluzzo of a probable thorough investigation. “I would say there’s no urgency in terms of flight risk. They will probably invite him in, if he wants to come.”
Ambra Battilana is one of two models who allegedly witnessed one of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous “bunga-bunga” sex parties. In 2013 she told an Italian court that she had seen other young women performing “stripteases” during orgy parties at Berlusconi’s lavish estate.