That Time the New York Post Dismissed Harvey Weinstein Accuser as ‘Grope Beauty’

NYC tabloid went to work in 2015 to discredit Ambra Battilana’s sexual misconduct claims against mogul

Last Updated: October 16, 2017 @ 10:32 AM

In the aftermath of Harvey Weinstein’s stunning fall from grace last week, many took note of the disgraced titan’s vaunted public relations team that successfully leveraged deep relationships with the press to minimize charges of sexual misconduct for decades.

Case in point: In 2015, shortly after then-22-year-old Italian model Ambra Battilana claimed she was groped by Weinstein in his Tribeca office and legal charges hung in the balance, the New York Post ran a brutal piece against her.

In the story, titled “Grope Beauty,” reporters Mara Siegler, Jamie Schram and Shawn Cohen dredged up Battilana involvement in sex parties thrown by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and suggested she was an “extortionist.” The piece also featured a liberal helping of disparaging comment from team Weinstein.

“We believe this is a blackmail attempt and he did nothing wrong,” the paper quoted a “source close to Weinstein.” Another line from “Weinstein’s camp” said “we are confident that we will be fully vindicated.”

Pushback from Battilana’s side was limited to a brief quote from her lawyer, Mark Jay Heller, toward the end of the piece: “There absolutely was no attempt to blackmail, and, in fact, making such a false allegation adds insult to injury causing a duplicity of victimization.”

The Post also quoted a police “source” who called Battilana story “BS.”

Of course, as we know now thanks to reporting from the New York Times, police familiar with the case at the time did believe evidence — including a recording of Weinstein making unwanted sexual advances toward Battilana — was sufficient for a case to be brought but that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. thought otherwise.

“We brought them a very good case,” a senior police official told The Times. “”He admitted, twice, doing it. That’s probable cause to make an arrest.” The sentiment was echoed by police sources in Ronan Farrow’s original New Yorker piece as well.

Post reporters Siegler and Cohen did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.