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AUDIO: NYPD Screwed Up Secret Recording in Weinstein Sex Case, DA Says

By Ben Fractenberg | October 10, 2017 3:33pm | Updated on October 10, 2017 6:26pm
 Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was caught on a wire admitting to groping Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in 2015.
Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was caught on a wire admitting to groping Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in 2015.
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Jimi Celeste/PatrickMcMullan.com

MIDTOWN — The Manhattan District Attorney's office blamed police for screwing up a 2015 sexual assault case against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, claiming NYPD investigators failed to get the goods in a secret recording.

Prosecutors said police erred in not consulting them when investigators put a wire on the complainant, model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, after she reported that Weinstein grabbed her breast during a meeting in his office at the TriBeCa Film Center in March 2015.

The 22-year-old woman, who had been tied to former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, can be heard in a recording released by the The New Yorker Tuesday talking to Weinstein at the door of his Tribeca Grand Hotel room.

“Why yesterday you touch my breast?” Battilana Gutierrez, who speaks with an Italian accent, is heard asking on the recording.

“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come in,” he responded. “I’m used to that.”

But Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman-Agnifilo said that wasn't enough for prosecutors to bring charges against the producer.

"After the complaint was made in 2015, the NYPD — without our knowledge or input — arranged a controlled call and meeting between the complainant and Mr. Weinstein," she said Tuesday.

"The seasoned prosecutors in our Sex Crimes Unit were not afforded the opportunity before the meeting to counsel investigators on what was necessary to capture in order to prove a misdemeanor sex crime. 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."

Friedman-Agnifilo said prosecutors continued to work the case but could not collect sufficient evidence to bring charges against Weinstein.

Sources told DNAinfo at the time that Battilana Gutierrez's credibility was a key factor in the DA's choice not to arrest Weinstein.

During interviews with prosecutors, the model denied she had previously been involved in court battles in Italy involving older men who provided her with financial support, despite court records indicating she was.

NYPD officials on Tuesday said their investigation into Battilana Gutierrez's allegations "was carried out by experienced detectives and supervisors" from their Special Victims Unit. 

"The detectives used well established investigative techniques. The recorded conversation with the subject corroborates the acts that were the basis for the victim's complaint to the police a day earlier," the NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Stephen Davis said.

"This follow-up recorded conversation was just one aspect of the case against the subject. This evidence, along with other statements and timeline information was presented to the office of the Manhattan District Attorney."

This is the second accusation of selective prosecution directed at Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance recently.

A separate investigation by The New Yorker in conjunction with WNYC and ProPublica found Vance also chose not to prosecute Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. after investigators built a case about the siblings potentially misleading buyers of units in the Trump SoHo building. 

Vance dropped the case after a meeting with the Trumps lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, who later donated $50,000 to Vance's 2012 reelection campaign, according to the report. 

The recording was revealed amid a wave of women who have come forward accusing Weinstein of harassing them. 

Famed actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie said he made unwanted advances toward them in the 1990s, The New York Times reported Tuesday.