New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has answered Time’s Up’s call for a review of a 2015 sexual assault investigation into Harvey Weinstein.
“It is of great concern that sexual assault cases have not been pursued with full vigor by our criminal justice system,” he said in a statement. “Specifically, there are questions about the handling of the 2015 sexual assault case of Ms. Ambra Battilana against Harvey Weinstein.”
Read the full statement below:
“It is of great concern that sexual assault cases have not been pursued with full vigor by our criminal justice system. Specifically, there are questions about the handling of the 2015 sexual assault case of Ms. Ambra Battilana against Harvey Weinstein. The Manhattan District Attorney is currently in the midst of a separate investigation, which involves witnesses and facts from the 2015 case. The Manhattan District Attorney at this point believes this current investigation will be completed within approximately 45 days. It is critical not only that these cases are given the utmost attention but also that there is public confidence in the handling of these cases. 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. Based on these findings we will decide what further actions may be necessary.
“The recent revelations about sexual assault and harassment pervasive in our society are most disturbing. We are leading the way forward with the nation’s most comprehensive reform package. This behavior must end.”
Cuomo’s comments come after Time’s Up, which aims to end workplace sexual harassment and abuse, asked that the governor’s office “launch an independent investigation” into Vance and the D.A.’s office “to determine the facts related to the decision not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein for sexual abuse crimes against one of his accusers, Ambra Battilana.”
The Manhattan D.A.’s office investigated Weinstein, 65, in 2015 after Gutierrez, a model, told authorities that Weinstein had groped her. The N.Y.P.D. had Gutierrez wear a wire as part of a sting operation.
In October, The New Yorker released a recording of the audio picked up on Gutierrez’s wire during the sting. On the recording, the mogul appears to admit to groping her and repeatedly pressures her into joining him in his hotel room where he planned to take a shower.
Despite the evidence, Vance declined to press charges. After The New Yorker published the recording, he defended the decision, saying that he did not believe prosecutors could have won the case.
The D.A. has also been widely criticized after he received a $10,000 donation from one of Weinstein’s lawyers. Vance said he never had contact with the lawyer who made the donation and the money had no bearing on his decision. Since, he’s implemented reform of his campaign donation rules.
In response to Time’s Up open letter, Danny Frost, a spokesperson for the Manhattan D.A.’s office, posted a statement to Twitter saying, “The idea that our Office would shrink from the challenge of prosecuting a powerful man is belied by our daily work and unparalleled record of success on behalf of sexual assault survivors.”
Frost began the statement, “We have great admiration for Time’s Up and for the courageous women and men who have brought about a long-overdue reckoning with decades of intolerable sexual abuse.”
He ended by saying, “As has been widely reported, our investigation of Mr. Weinstein is active and ongoing. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment further.”
To donate to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which will provide subsidized legal support to women and men in all industries who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace, visit its GoFundMe page. Learn more about Time’s Up, an organization of women in entertainment combating sexual harassment and inequality, on its website.
According to a report by The Daily Beast in early March, the NYPD was recently “ready to go with an arrest” against Weinstein for sexual assault, but that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is holding off for now. “We are still accumulating evidence,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told the New York Daily News when asked about the report.
Over 60 women have come forward to accuse the producer of sexual misconduct since The New York Times and The New Yorker alleged decades of alleged sexual harassment and assault in October.
Weinstein has admitted to making advances on actresses, but vehemently denies allegations of sexual harassment and assault. A spokesperson for the producer previously told PEOPLE in a statement that “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”