Time’s Up, the movement and legal defense fund born out of the Me Too movement against sexual assault and harassment, wants something done about the New York district attorney who failed to prosecute disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein in 2015.
In an open letter shared with the Cut, Time’s Up’s leaders have called upon New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to launch an investigation into New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who decided not to prosecute Weinstein after an investigation into his alleged groping of model Ambra Battilana. In a March 16 article in New York Magazine, Michael Bock, a retired sergeant who was one of six Special Victims Division members on the case, detailed why NYPD had to “hide” Battilana from Vance in order to stop him from actively discrediting her, and said his team gave Vance “beyond a reasonable doubt” to prosecute Weinstein.
As a result of Vance’s decision, Time’s Up claims in the letter, Weinstein was allowed to continue to carry out sexual harassment and assault as detailed by the women who have since come forward against the producer.
“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,” the letter reads. “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.”
Overall, Time’s Up stated that it is concerned that a negative relationship between the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office sex crimes unit and the NYPD’s Special Victims team will further decrease the likelihood that people victimized by rich or powerful men will come forward, let alone be served justice.
“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,” the letter concludes. “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.”
Read Time’s Up’s full open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo here.