Cy Vance Called Out by Celebs Over Harvey Weinstein Prosecution: 'Times Up'

Udated | The Time's Up movement is calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to open an investigation of New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance. The reason: Vance and the DA's office may have intentionally mishandled a sexual assault case involving Harvey Weinstein three years ago.

In an open letter published by The Cut, Time's Up—a celebrity-founded movement and legal defense fund dedicated to fighting gender inequality and sexual harassment in the workplace—demanded an independent investigation of the "full decision-making process" behind the decision not to prosecute the now-disgraced movie mogul in 2015 after Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana reported her sexual assault to the New York Police Department.

Battilana worked with the NYPD Special Victims Division (SVD) to secretly record audio of Weinstein attempting to force her into his hotel room. Clips from the tape were later included in Ronan Farrow's explosive New Yorker report, published in October 2017.

Yet despite the damning evidence, Weinstein wasn't prosecuted. According to a report from New York magazine published Friday, Vance and the district attorney's office may have been actively working against the investigation to protect Weinstein. Retired SVD Sergeant Michael Bock, who worked on the case, said the SVD went so far as to hide Battilana from the DA to avoid the office's attempt to discredit her testimony.

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance speaks at global cybersecurity symposium at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on November 18, 2015. His office's handling of a 2015 sexual assault case involving former producer Harvey Weinstein is being questioned. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

In the letter to Cuomo, the Time's Up organization wrote that Vance's alleged interference in the 2015 case "demand[s] immediate scrutiny."

"We are concerned," the group continued, "that what appears to be the negative relationship between the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the Special Victims Unit of the NYPD makes it even less likely that victims who have been assaulted by rich or powerful men will be willing to come forward and that their assailants will be prosecuted and convicted."

Vance responded to the letter by posting a statement on his Twitter page, written by DA spokesperson Danny Frost. "Survivors of sexual violence—and all who stand with them—should know that the account appearing in this week's New York Magazine bears little resemblance to the facts," the statement read. "The idea that our Office would shrink away from the challenge of prosecuting a powerful man is belied by our daily work."

Had the NYPD charged Weinstein in 2015, the Time's Up organization argued, subsequent alleged Weinstein victims could have been spared. More than 80 women have said Weinstein, the former co-owner of Miramax and the Weinstein Co., either sexually assaulted or sexually harassed them.

Two weeks ago, an NYPD official told The Daily Beast that the police are ready to arrest Weinstein after investigating five separate sexual assault allegations and are just waiting for Vance's go-ahead.

A spokesperson for Vance declined to comment to The Daily Beast.

Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from the New York County District Attorney's office.

Cy Vance Called Out by Celebs Over Harvey Weinstein Prosecution: 'Times Up' | Culture
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