Time’s Up — an initiative and legal-defense fund fighting sexual harassment and gender inequality — has called on New York governor Andrew Cuomo to open an investigation of the New York County district attorney, Cyrus Vance, and the office of the district attorney, after a story in New York Magazine revealed the alleged mishandling of a Harvey Weinstein sexual-assault case.
In an open letter shared exclusively with the Cut, the group urged New York governor Andrew Cuomo to look into a decision not to prosecute Weinstein. The group also writes that it fears that the “negative relationship” between the NYPD special victims unit and Vance’s office will make it “even less likely that victims who have been assaulted by rich or powerful men will be willing to come forward.” Below, the full letter.
Time’s Up calls for Investigation of NY District Attorney Cyrus Vance
Time’s Up, a global organization dedicated to ending workplace sexual harassment and abuse, calls on the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, to launch an independent investigation of the New York County District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, and the office of the District Attorney to determine the facts related to the decision not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein for sexual abuse crimes against one of his accusers, Ambra Battilana.
Reports that District Attorney Cyrus Vance could have been improperly influenced by Mr. Weinstein and/or his representatives, and that senior officials within the DA’s office may have sought to intimidate Battilana are particularly disturbing and merit investigation. Similarly, reports that the New York Police Department chose to isolate Battilana from Vance’s staff because they feared his office was actively working to discredit her story demand immediate scrutiny.
An independent investigation into the full decision-making process in this case, including a full review of the correspondence within the office and with any representatives for Mr. Weinstein, must be undertaken immediately to ensure that prosecutorial integrity was maintained and to restore faith in the DA’s office.
We are concerned 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.
Greater awareness of sexual abuse crimes is essential, but it is hollow and can even be a deterrent if survivors cannot access justice through fair and unbiased prosecution.
Given the multitude of credible reports of Mr. Weinstein’s behaviors after the DA’s decision not to prosecute in this case, arguably his continued victimization of others could have been avoided.
There will only be real consequences for abusive behavior when our public officials, sworn to uphold the law, care as much about the rights of the victim as concerns for the accused.