Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered a review into the Manhattan District Attorney’s handling of a 2015 investigation of a sexual assault claim against Harvey Weinstein.
The call follows a report by the New York Magazine that investigators had sufficient evidence to build a case against Weinstein over a sexual assault claim made by Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, but charges were never filed because of Weinstein’s purported ties to high-ranking officials at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
“It is of great concern that sexual assault cases have not been pursued with full vigor by our criminal justice system,” Cuomo wrote in a statement. “Specifically, there are questions about the handling of the 2015 sexual assault case of Ms. Ambra Battilana against Harvey Weinstein.”
“Therefore, I have directed the Attorney General to begin a review of the 2015 case in a way that does not interfere with the current investigation and, at the conclusion of the Manhattan District Attorney’s current investigation, to review the entire matter and report to me on its findings,” he continued.
Cuomo’s statement followed calls from the Time’s Up sexual harassment defense fund demanding an investigation into Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr.’s conduct.
District Attorney spokesman Danny Frost said that Vance would respond to any such investigation with full cooperation and would be found innocent of any wrongdoing.
“We are confident that any review will confirm that our Office has pursued its investigation without fear or favor, based on the merits alone,” Frost said.
“We will of course provide the Attorney General with any necessary information, and expect that he will promptly determine that our Office has been guided solely by the facts and the law.”
Weinstein’s attorney, Bred Brafman, also denied Weinstein’s involvement in the crime, and pointed to a sworn affidavit signed by Ambra where she said the incident was a “result of a misunderstanding and that her decision to report the incident to the Police, was attributed by her to ‘bad advice’ she received.”
The allegations are merely the latest in claims of multiple cover-ups surrounding Weinstein’s sexual misdemeanors, with dozens of women accusing him of crimes ranging from harassment to rape.
Multiple law enforcement agencies are said to be preparing cases against Weinstein, although he has yet to be indicted on any charges.