The NYPD is prepared to collar Harvey Weinstein for felony sexual assault, a police official with direct knowledge of the case told The Daily Beast.
“We’re ready to go with an arrest,” the official said yesterday afternoon.
The NYPD is awaiting only a nod from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
Earlier in the day, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce was asked during a wide ranging press availability about the investigation into sexual assault allegations against Weinstein. Boyce replied that the detectives are still gathering evidence in the case and, “It is going very, very well.”
Boyce then suggested that questions regarding the next step would be best addressed to Vance.
“I would ask you to ask him,” Boyce said,
The Daily Beast did ask.
“We will decline,” a Vance spokesman said when asked for comment.
According to police sources, the NYPD has been investigating five separate sexual assault allegations against Weinstein. One case is said to be particularly strong.
The NYPD does not name sex crime victims, but the victim in this instance has spoken for publication about the alleged assault.
As she recounted in a 2017 New Yorker article by Ronan Farrow, Lucia Evans was a college student interested in an acting career when she met Weinstein at the Cipriani Upstairs nightspot in the summer of 2004. Weinstein offered her professional guidance and she imagined that was his intention she arrived at his office for a daytime meeting.
As Evans subsequently recounted to Farrow and to detectives from the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit, Weinstein made his real purpose clear when he forced her to perform oral sex.
“I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,’” she told Farrow. “He’s a big guy. He overpowered me.”
The SVU has also been speaking to actress Paz de la Huerta, who told Vanity Fair that Weinstein threw her down on a bed and raped her in 2010. Detectives found both women believable. The Evans case is apparently the stronger of the two.
The other three cases involving Weinstein are said to be still developing.
In the case involving Evans, one hurdle the SVU detectives reportedly faced was a reluctance on her part to deal with Vance’s office.
One reason for Evans’ hesitation may have been Vance’s failure to authorize the SVU to arrest Weinstein for groping Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in 2015. Vance’s office declined – and left that victim all the more vulnerable to be smeared by the press — even though Gutierrez had immediately reported the incident and had subsequently recorded Weinstein making what amounted to a confession.
“I won’t do it again,” Weinstein can be heard telling Battilana, implicitly admitting he had done it to her before.
In defending the decision not to prosecute, Chief Assistant DA Karen Friedman Agnifilo actually sought to blame the detectives, saying that before making the recording they should have first consulted with the “seasoned prosecutors” in her office.
“While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent,” Agnifilo said.
Weinstein’s lawyers had reportedly insisted to the prosecutors that he had touched her breasts only to evaluate her as a possible lingerie model. He would have had a harder time explaining why he had reached under her skirt without criminal intent.
“She was going to play the part of a gynecological patient in a movie?” a police official joked.
Another police official noted that the Manhattan DA routinely prosecutes subway gropers on far less evidence.
“But they’re not Harvey Weinstein,” the other official noted.
A Weinstein victim is liable to be all the more leery of going to the Manhattan DA since the mogul retained defense attorney Ben Brafman, whose law partners include Marc Agnifilo. He is the husband of Karen Friedman Agnifilo, who is said to have recused herself from any further involvement in anything Weinstein.
Evans eventually agreed to meet with the DA’s office after the SVU detectives offered to accompany her and remain while she was interviewed. She is said to have been as convincing with the prosecutors and she had been with the detectives.
Evans, who has since married and moved on to interests unrelated to acting, seems to be as determined as the detectives are to follow through in the Weinstein case.
She told the New Yorker: “I tried to get away, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t want to kick him or fight him… I just sort of gave up. That’s the most horrible part of it, and that’s why he’s been able to do this for so long to so many women: people give up, and then they feel like it’s their fault.”
She also recalled that Weinstein had seemed unconcerned about any possible consequences after the attack.
“It was like it was just another day for him,” she said. “It was no emotion.”
A decade later, Weinstein seems bound for a day of reckoning. The SVU detectives had a few final details to chase down in recent days, but now they are ready to make the collar in at least one case. They only need Vance to give the go-ahead.
According to several news accounts, Vance’s office has been looking into Weinstein’s finances, as regard to non-disclosure agreements with other accusers as well as in general. A number of people in his office had been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury. The DA also hopes to subpoena Weinstein’s driver, though prosecutors were said at one point to be having difficulty locating him.
Meanwhile, the New York State Attorney General’s office has filed a civil suit against Weinstein’s company, charging it with “vicious and exploitative mistreatment” of employees., including “sexual harassment, intimidation, and other misconduct.”
At the same time, the district attorney out in Los Angeles is reportedly examining a total of five cases of sexual assault by Weinstein that the police have referred to it for possible prosecution.
But none of that precludes Vance from just going ahead and authorizing Weinstein’s arrest in the Evans case. Weinstein is said to have stayed away from recent negotiations regarding the sale of his business because he feared he might be arrested if he came to New York.
He just might be if the detectives decide just to go ahead and make the collar with or without Vance’s approval.
And the result could be a long prison term.