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Report: Federal Prosecutors Start Criminal Investigation Into Weinstein Sex-Abuse Claims

May 23, 2018 - 6:46 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS/AP) -- Manhattan federal prosecutors have started a criminal investigation into the sex-abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that the investigation reflects what law-enforcement authorities have described as a growing frustration that local prosecutors have yet to bring any charges against Weinstein.

The discraced film mogul faces accusations from dozens of women, including allegations of rape and sexual assault.

In March, Time's Up, an initiative started by a powerhouse group of Hollywood industry women to fight systemic sexual harassment, called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to investigate the Manhattan District Attorney's office over a decision in 2015 not to prosecute a sex abuse case against Weinstein.

In a statement, the group said a report in New York magazine is disturbing because it suggests the district attorney's office may have been improperly influenced by Weinstein and sought to intimidate an Italian model who accused the disgraced media mogul of groping her. 
 
"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,'' the statement said. 
 
The article centers on the case of Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. In 2015, police conducted a sting after she accused Weinstein of groping her, secretly recording Weinstein apologizing for this conduct.
 
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. ultimately decided there wasn't enough proof and didn't bring a case. Following criticism over the decision last year, prosecutors said police arranged the sting without their knowledge and there were other proof issues, but police pushed back saying they'd presented enough evidence.

Cuomo in March ordered then Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office to investigate how Vance's office handled the 2015 case against Weinstein.

Schneiderman, 63, later announced his resignation hours after a New Yorker article appeared online accusing him of phycsical abuse.

Cuomo has since appointed Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas as a special prosecutor the next day, taking the case away from Vance to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest stemming from a probe into Weinstein.