Manhattan DA Defends Handling of 2015 Harvey Weinstein Case Despite Explosive Audio

“What emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime,” Manhattan Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman-Agnifilo tells The Wrap

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. on Tuesday defended its decision not to press charges against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein despite an incriminating 2015 audio recording from a woman in which he seems to admit to groping her.

In a statement to the Wrap, the DA’s office defended its conduct during 2015.

“If we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have,” Manhattan Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman-Agnifilo told The Wrap. “Mr. Weinstein’s pattern of mistreating women, as recounted in recent reports, is disgraceful and shocks the conscience.”

The office has come under scrutiny on Tuesday after The New Yorker published a 2015 police audio which captured Weinstein making unwanted sexual advances toward a model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. She attempted to press charges following an encounter with the mogul at the Tribeca headquarters of The Weinstein Company.

“While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent,” Friedman-Agnifilo said. “Subsequent investigative steps undertaken in order to establish intent were not successful. This, coupled with other proof issues, meant that there was no choice but to conclude the investigation without criminal charges.”

On Tuesday, The New Yorker published Ronan Farrow’s lengthy investigation, 10 months in the making, which detailed the accounts of 13 women alleging sexual misconduct by Weinstein, including three new allegations of rape.

In Farrow’s piece, an unnamed law enforcement official questioned the DA’s decision not to prosecute on Battilana Gutierrez’s claims. “We had the evidence,” a police source told Farrow. “It’s a case that made me angrier than I thought possible, and I have been on the force a long time.”

Earlier this month, the New Yorker also published a scathing piece suggesting that Vance also overrode some of his prosecutors who in 2012 wanted to press felony fraud charges against two of future-President Donald Trump’s children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, over misleading marketing claims about the Trump Tribeca development.

The magazine, in an investigative piece with ProPublica, reported that Vance’s decision came after a meeting from Trump attorney (and Vance campaign donor) Marc Kasowitz.

Vance, a Democrat will be up for re-election to the powerful post next month and currently faces no opposition.