By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 11, 2017
In May 2011, a New York grand jury indicted the powerful former head of the International Monetary Fund and the man presumed by many to be on his way to becoming the next President of France, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The indictment stemmed from allegations that he had sexually assaulted a maid, Nafissatou Diallo, in his hotel suite in New York. But then Strauss-Kahn unleashed his powerful legal team and global PR firm and by August the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, had dropped the case. (See our prior coverage here and here.)
Strauss-Kahn, known as DSK, had much in common at the time with the Harvey Weinstein matter today. DSK was a powerful man with powerful political friends. He had lawyers and a major PR firm ready to spring into action over allegations of being a sexual predator when they arose.
Now, it turns out that DSK had one other thing in common with Harvey Weinstein. The Manhattan DA, Cyrus Vance, also failed to prosecute a case against Harvey Weinstein brought to it by the New York Police Department in 2015.
The failure to prosecute Weinstein by Cyrus Vance was detailed in an article yesterday at the New Yorker based on a 10-month investigation by writer Ronan Farrow. The article expands dramatically on the report last week in the New York Times and includes far more serious charges. Farrow writes:
“Three women—among them [Asia] Argento and a former aspiring actress named Lucia Evans—told me that Weinstein raped them, allegations that include Weinstein forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex. Four women said that they experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault.”
Farrow reveals for the first time how the NYPD set up a sting operation against Weinstein in 2015, based on a report of sexual assault brought to them immediately by a Weinstein victim, model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. The attack was reported to have occurred in Weinstein’s office in Tribeca, a trendy section of lower Manhattan. The NYPD had Gutierrez wear a wire to another meeting with Weinstein, where he admitted on tape to groping her the prior day. The NYPD referred the case to the Manhattan DA’s office. Farrow explains what happened next:
“Two sources close to the police investigation said that they had no reason to doubt Gutierrez’s account of the incident. One of them, a police source, said that the department had collected more than enough evidence to prosecute Weinstein. But the other source said that Gutierrez’s statements about her past complicated the case for the office of the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr. After two weeks of investigation, the District Attorney’s office decided not to file charges. The D.A.’s office declined to comment on this story but pointed me to its statement at the time: ‘This case was taken seriously from the outset, with a thorough investigation conducted by our Sex Crimes Unit. After analyzing the available evidence, including multiple interviews with both parties, a criminal charge is not supported.’ ”
Can one seriously call a two-week investigation “thorough”? When it comes to sexual assault cases, it’s beginning to seem that Cyrus Vance will only prosecute if the victim has lived in a convent her whole life.
At the time of the Strauss-Kahn case, Robert Reuland, a former prosecutor in the Kings County, New York District Attorney’s office had this to say:
“Their complainant has some skeletons in her closet; Cy Vance [Manhattan DA] is shocked, shocked to find an African immigrant knows some unsavory people and may have lied on her asylum papers. Therefore, she’s making the whole story up? I don’t follow the logic there…as a prosecutor in Brooklyn my complainants always had issues, many far worse than those of the complainant in the DSK prosecution. In Brooklyn, we just rolled with it. Juries understand no one’s perfect. Anyone can win a case when the complainant is Mother Teresa. But sometimes, and quite frequently in my experience, bad things happen to bad people, too. And that’s still a crime, folks!
“I’m not aware of any evidence in the Strauss-Kahn debacle to suggest that the complainant made up her story about the assault. If she did, then the DA must pull the plug. Otherwise, tough it out, Cy. And welcome to New York City.”
The embarrassment to Cy Vance in the Weinstein matter is heightened by the fact that Ronan Farrow, the New Yorker reporter who located the women asserting they were raped by Weinstein, had none of the tools that a prosecutor has: like subpoena power, a team of law enforcement investigators, ability to wire tap, etc. And yet, he was able to deliver the goods: women willing to go on the record with precise details and locations and names of people they told about the incident.
Even more striking, Farrow obtained written evidence that Weinstein’s office staff knew of the ongoing sexual misconduct by Weinstein over decades but failed to report it to authorities.
Last Thursday, reporters at the New York Times did Cy Vance’s job for him. Yesterday, Ronan Farrow provided further dramatic evidence of criminal conduct that Vance failed to locate. The public should pay close attention to what happens next in the DA’s office and clean house there if necessary to protect the women of New York from serial predators.