Detectives at the New York Police Department (NYPD) were forced to hide a woman who has accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault from his lawyers and cronies after the Manhattan District Attorney’s office refused to pursue the case, according to a new report.
Investigators told the New York Magazine that they had sufficient evidence to prosecute Weinstein over claims made in 2015 that he assaulted Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, but the case was dropped because of Weinstein’s close ties to high-ranking officials at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. — who was close with various members of Weinstein’s legal team that included attorneys Elkan Abramowitz and Linda Fairstein — declined to pursue the case. NYPD investigators, consequently, decided to hide Battilana in several Manhattan hotels under a false name.
“We decided we’re going to hide the victim,” said former NYPD Sgt. Michael Bock of the Special Victims Division. “From the DA.”
However, the head of the DA’s Sex Crimes, Martha Bashford, a close associate of Abramowitz, did eventually meet with Battilana, with Bock claiming she took an “aggressive and accusatory” approach to her questioning of Weinstein’s accuser.
A representative for Vance’s office, Joan Vollero, denied that description of Bashford’s questioning of Battilana, describing it as a “normal, typical interview of a complainant.”
“It is customary for prosecutors to discuss potential areas of cross-examination when meeting with complainants,” Vollero said.
Bock, meanwhile, maintained that prosecutors had sufficient evidence to pursue the case and that if found guilty, Weinstein would have got off with a mere misdemeanor.
“This is only a misdemeanor case!” Bock said. “It’s not a felony! They prosecute people for misdemeanors with far less probable cause than this. We gave them beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“We obviously know who this man is,” he continued. “We obviously know we have a different burden of proof. So to go above and beyond as we did, he should have been arrested. He should’ve been arrested.”
Shocking audio, published by the New Yorker, from a 2015 sting captures what officers said is Weinstein admitting to being “used to” groping women while assaulting Battilana outside his room at the Tribeca Grand Hotel.
“Weinstein’s team, which smeared Battilana in the press as a gold digger, reached a settlement requiring her to turn over a copy she possessed of the phone call recorded by the SVD,” New York reports. “Anonymous sources close to Vance’s office, meanwhile, painted Battilana as an unreliable witness and blamed Osgood’s team for having moved too quickly.”
In a statement to Breitbart News, Ben Brafman, attorney for Harvey Weinstein, rebuked New York magazine’s reporting.
“We are stunned that NY Magazine chose to report on the claim against Harvey Weinstein by Ambra Battilana without including the fact that in a sworn Affidavit, Ambra stated in substance that her complaint against Harvey was the result of a misunderstanding and that her decision to report the incident to the Police, was attributed by her to “bad advice” she received,” Brafman said. “NY Magazine also failed to mention the fact that her Affidavit was reviewed by her and her own attorneys, including her long time Italian lawyer before she signed it under oath.”
“Accordingly, any claim by Ambra that she failed to understand her own words is patently false,” Brafman added.
The allegations are the latest claims of multiple cover-ups surrounding Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, involving accusations from dozens of women accusing him of everything from harassment to rape, which sparked revelations of a wider sexual abuse scandal across the industry.
In December, Carrie Goldberg, an attorney representing actress Paz de la Huerta, who accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her in 2010, expressed frustration with prosecutors who had not yet brought criminal charges again Weinstein.
A report last November alleged that Weinstein even kept a secret “hitlist” of around 100 film industry figures with knowledge of his behavior as part of a wider strategy to suppress any potential accusers coming forward.
Earlier this month, New York City’s top detective Chief Robert Boyce said his investigators has gathered enough evidence to arrest Weinstein — but that the district attorney has yet to move forward with an indictment.