NYC, London police taking fresh look at Weinstein claims
By COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Police detectives in New York City and London are taking a fresh look into sexual assault allegations against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein.
New York Police Department spokesman Peter Donald said Thursday that investigators are trying to determine whether there were any additional complaints involving Weinstein, now embroiled in a sex abuse scandal. That includes reviewing police files to see if any women previously reported being assaulted or harassed by him.
So far, no filed complaints have been found, he said, other than one well-known case that prompted an investigation in 2015, but authorities are encouraging anyone with information on Weinstein to contact the department.
Also Thursday, British media reported London police are investigating an allegation of sexual assault involving Weinstein. London’s Metropolitan police force said it had received an allegation of sexual assault from the Merseyside force in northwest England.
Merseyside police says the allegation was made Wednesday and concerns “an alleged sexual assault in the London area in the 1980s.”
Some 30 women — including actresses Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow — told The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine for recent stories that Weinstein had sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them. Weinstein was fired Sunday by The Weinstein Co., a studio he co-founded with his brother.
Detectives in the NYPD’s special victims unit were instructed to identify and speak with any potential victims, including the women who spoke about their encounters with Weinstein in a recent New Yorker article, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
In The New Yorker expose, a former actress, Lucia Evans, said Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex in 2004 when she was a college student.
At least one other unnamed woman said she was raped by Weinstein, but the article did not disclose when it where it happened. A third woman, actress Asia Argento, told the magazine that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 1997 at a hotel in France.
Under New York law, making someone engage in oral sex by physical force or the threat of it is a first-degree criminal sexual act. There’s no legal time limit for bringing charges.
Weinstein, through a spokeswoman, has denied any nonconsensual sexual conduct with any women.
The film mogul reappeared briefly on Wednesday outside a Los Angeles home, telling the paparazzi he’s “not doing OK,” but he’s hoping for a “second chance,” according to video posted by celebrity website TMZ. He also told the photographers he needs to “get help” and “we all make mistakes.”
New York detectives already investigated Weinstein once, in 2015, when an Italian model said the studio executive grabbed her breasts and groped her. Detectives set up a sting where they recorded a conversation between the woman and Weinstein while he tried to persuade her to come into his hotel room.
“Why yesterday you touch my breast?” the 22-year-old asked on the recording, published by The New Yorker.
“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in. I’m used to that. Come on. Please,” Weinstein responded.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute the case. Vance said his office’s “best lawyers” examined the evidence before deciding, less than two weeks after the woman first made her allegations, to drop the investigation.
“I, like they, were very disturbed by the contents of the tape. It’s obviously sickening,” Vance said. “But at the end of the day we operate in a courtroom of law, not the court of public opinion. And our sex crime prosecutors made a determination that this was not going to be a provable case, and so the decision was made not to go forward.”
Police investigated that allegation as a case of forcible touching, a misdemeanor with a two-year time limit for bringing charges. The statute of limitations has since expired.
Fallout from the numerous allegations against Weinstein continued Thursday, with the leaders of the Cannes film festival expressing dismay at the accusations.
“These actions point to a pattern of behavior that merits only the clearest and most unequivocal condemnation,” festival president Pierre Lescure and general delegate Thierry Fremaux wrote in a statement.
Hachette Book Group, one of the country’s top publishers, also announced Thursday that it has “terminated” Weinstein Books.