NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Protesters angered by the lack of prosecution of Harvey Weinstein in a sex assault case from two years ago held a rally Friday outside the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Chanting “DA Vance should prosecute, there’s evidence you can’t refute,” women’s rights advocates and sexual assault survivors said District Attorney Cyrus Vance should have held Weinstein criminally responsible after hearing disturbing wire tap audio of an interaction between Weinstein and model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, one of his alleged victims, in 2015.
The recording was obtained by The New Yorker and posted on the magazine’s website Tuesday. In it, Weinstein is heard promising that he would not touch Gutierrez’s breast again.
Gutierrez: Why yesterday you touch my breast?
Weinstein: Oh, please, I’m sorry. Just come on in. I’m used to that. Come on. Please.
Gutierrez: You’re used to that?
Weinstein: Yes, come in.
Gutierrez: No, but I’m not used to that.
Weinstein: I won’t do it again. Come on. Sit here.
Vance defended his decision this week, saying that while he was sickened and disturbed by the audio, there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute the case.
“Our sex crimes prosecutors made the determination that this was not going to be a provable case, and so the decision was made not to go forward,” Vance said Wednesday.
Members of the National Organization of Women are trying to pressure Vance to take another look at the case, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
“Let’s be really clear about something: The district attorney absolutely had enough evidence to prosecute Harvey Weinstein,” said attorney Jane Manning. “The victim’s account alone was legally sufficient. The tape obtained by the NYPD investigation provided extra corroboration. The district attorney chose not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein.
“There’s no question that they could have prosecuted this case if they had chosen to,” she added.
“They have a believable case,” said Melissa Quesinberry, an outreach manager with NOW in New York. “They have evidence. They do everything that the police ask them to do. They cooperate. And hen the DA decides, ‘Nah, I don’t think so.'”
The advocates said the alleged victim in 2015 was scrutinized, but was Weinstein?
“Why didn’t they open an investigation to see if they could find more victims?” asked Sonia Ossorio, NOW’s president.”
Some critics allege Vance could have been influenced by a campaign donation from Weinstein. However, a spokeswoman for Vance told CBS2 the district attorney never received campaign contributions directly from Weinstein.
“No contribution ever in my seven years as district attorney has ever had any impacts on my decision-making in a case,” Vance said himself earlier this week.
Other politicians have pledged past donations to charity.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who initially vowed to return some of the donation, now says he will return all the Weinstein money.
“It’s the entitlement of too many men, and it is an epidemic,” actress Jane Fonda said of the allegations. She said she’s ashamed she did not speak out about this sooner, revealing she learned about the shocking allegations from actress Rosanna Arquette, a Weinstein accuser.
Fonda said she waited because it did not happen to her.
The list of Weinstein’s public accusers has grown to at least 35 women describing inappropriate conduct, with some alleging sexual harassment or rape.
Actress Kate Beckinsale said in an Instagram post Friday that when she was 17 Weinstein “opened the door in his bathrobe. … A few years later he asked me if he had tried anything with me in that first meeting. I realized he couldn’t remember if he had assaulted me or not.”
I was called to meet Harvey Weinstein at the Savoy Hotel when I was 17. I assumed it would be in a conference room which was very common.When I arrived ,reception told me to go to his room . He opened the door in his bathrobe . I was incredibly naive and young and it did not cross my mind that this older ,unattractive man would expect me to have any sexual interest in him .After declining alcohol and announcing that I had school in the morning I left ,uneasy but unscathed.A few years later he asked me if he had tried anything with me in that first meeting .I realized he couldn't remember if he had assaulted me or not .I had what I thought were boundaries – I said no to him professionally many times over the years-some of which ended up with him screaming at me calling me a cunt and making threats, some of which made him laughingly tell people oh "Kate lives to say no to me ." It speaks to the status quo in this business that I was aware that standing up for myself and saying no to things,while it did allow me to feel uncompromised in myself,undoubtedly harmed my career and was never something I felt supported by anyone other than my family.I would like to applaud the women who have come forward , and to pledge that we can from this create a new paradigm where producers,managers,executives and assistants and everyone who has in the past shrugged and said " well, that's just Harvey /Mr X/insert name here " will realize that we in numbers can affect real change.For every moment like this there have been thousands where a vulnerable person has confided outrageous unprofessional behavior and found they have no recourse, due to an atmosphere of fear that it seems almost everyone has been living in .I had a male friend who, based on my experience,warned a young actress who said she was going to dinner with Harvey to be careful. He received a phone call the next day saying he would never work in another Miramax film ;the girl was already sleeping with Harvey and had told him that my friend had warned her off.Let's stop allowing our young women to be sexual cannon fodder,and let's remember that Harvey is an emblem of a system that is sick,and that we have work to do.
Vance asked for alleged victims to come forward to his office.
Weinsten is denying any allegations of nonconsensual sex, and his representatives say he has checked into an Arizona rehab facility.
Now more business colleagues are distancing themselves from Weinstein, as he loses another source of income with the shutting down of Weinstein Books.