District attorney for Weinstein's case comes under fire

Mr Cyrus Vance
Mr Cyrus Vance

NEW YORK • The Time's Up movement campaigning against sexual harassment on Monday demanded an investigation into a Manhattan prosecutor's handling of the case for failing to bring criminal charges against the disgraced movie mogul.

The group called on New York state governor Andrew Cuomo to open an investigation to determine why Mr Cyrus Vance  did not prosecute the 66-year-old Hollywood ex-powerbroker in a 2015 case, arguing it could have saved other potential victims.

Italian model Ambra Battilana was one of the first women to come forward accusing Weinstein of sexual assault. But her case was dismissed and discredited.

Reports that Mr Vance "could have been improperly influenced" by Weinstein and that senior officials in the Manhattan district attorney's office "may have sought to intimidate Battilana are particularly disturbing and merit investigation", the movement said.

"An independent investigation into the full decision-making process in this case, including a full review of the correspondence within the office and with any representatives for Mr Weinstein, must be undertaken immediately," it added.

"Given the multitude of credible reports of Mr Weinstein's behaviour after the DA's decision not to prosecute in this case, arguably his continued victimisation of others could have been avoided."

Asked about the possibility of Weinstein being charged last week, Mr Vance had told Agence France-Presse: "It's very much under active investigation, I really can't say anything else."

About 100 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct since a New York Times expose was published in October last year, with allegations ranging from harassment to rape.

On Monday, Weinstein's former production company announced that it had filed for bankruptcy.

The Weinstein Co. will sell itself to an affiliate of Dallas-based Lantern Capital Partners.

The film studio, founded in 2005 by Weinstein and his brother Bob, sought protection, listing as much as US$1 billion (S$1.32 billion) in debt and US$1 billion in assets.

The company also agreed to release any women who settled sexual harassment claims involving the company from their non-disclosure agreements, freeing them to tell their stories without fear of being sued.

"No one should be afraid to speak out or coerced to stay quiet," the company said in a statement.

REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2018, with the headline 'District attorney for Weinstein's case comes under fire'. Print Edition | Subscribe