Manhattan D.A.’s Failure to Prosecute Raises Grave Concerns
NEW YORK – October 13, 2017 – The National Organization for Women – New York (NOW-NY) is calling for a full accounting of the handling and failure to charge Harvey Weinstein for sexually assaulting a young model in 2015.
“The District Attorney’s decision not to prosecute Weinstein raises grave concerns about how sexual assault cases are being handled in Manhattan and whether the rich and famous are able to use their influence and money to get away with crime,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW-NY.
Vance took $10,000 from Weinstein’s personal attorney David Boies in 2015, and more than $182,000 from Boies’ network, according to news reports.
“There’s an inherent conflict of interest when you have a D.A. who raises money from the very lawyers whose clients are being investigated,” Ossorio said. “There’s something terribly wrong if political considerations play into decisions that affect public safety.”
NOW-NY is concerned that Vance’s handling of the case could deter other victims from reporting sex crimes, which are already massively underreported. “A major reason why survivors don’t speak up is that they are afraid nothing will be done. When district attorneys refuse to go forward in cases like this one, where there was a prompt report and strong evidence, they send a message to other victims that their cases aren’t a priority and won’t be prosecuted.”
“District Attorney Vance has offered no plausible explanation for his failure to prosecute this crime,” said Jane Manning, Women’s Justice NOW’s Director of Advocacy and a former sex crimes prosecutor. “His office’s statement that it was impossible to prove Weinstein’s ‘intent’ makes no sense as a matter of law or a matter of common sense. When a perpetrator lunges at a young woman, grabs her breasts, and tries to shove his hand up her skirt, there’s nothing ambiguous about his intent. The District Attorney’s Office failed this young crime victim, and the D.A. owes the public an explanation of how he’s going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
NOW-NY advocates for the women and girls of New York, by working to defend reproductive rights, advance economic justice, and end discrimination and violence against women.