MIDTOWN — Embattled Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance doubled down Wednesday on his decision not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein on sex crime charges, despite what he called "sickening" audio of the Hollywood mogul essentially confessing to groping an Italian model.
Vance — who has faced a wave of criticism recently for his 2015 decision to toss the Weinstein case and for dropping a probe into the Trump family — insisted he was guided by the law in the sexual assault incident and said he has no regrets.
“Our best lawyers looked at the matter,” he said following an event at John Jay College Wednesday. “I, like they, was very disturbed at the contents of the tape. It’s obviously sickening, but at the end of the day we operate in the court of law, not in the court of public opinion.”
Vance's office on Tuesday blamed the NYPD for botching the probe of a groping incident involving Weinstein and model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez at the director’s office in the TriBeCa Film Center in March 2015, despite the fact police obtained audio of the director essentially admitting to the crime.
“Why yesterday you touch my breast?” Battilana Gutierrez, speaking with an Italian accent, is heard asking on the recording.
“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come in,” Weinstein responds. “I’m used to that."
The NYPD blasted in turn Vance’s office, insisting detectives used “well established investigative techniques” and that the audio “was just one aspect of the case” again Weinstein.
But Vance said that while he understood "folks were outraged" by Weinstein's behavior, top sex crime prosecutors investigated the incident and determined they couldn't move forward.
“We really did what I think the law obligates us to do — focus on the evidence and the facts that we had,” he said. “We relied on the true professionals to help guide us to the decision, which is not always going to be the popular decision.”
Several other women, including Oscar-winning actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, have since come forward saying Weinstein harassed them.
Vance has also been blasted recently for dropping a probe against President Donald Trump's children, who investigators were eyeing for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo building. Vance met with the Trumps' lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, who later donated $50,000 to the district attorney's 2012 re-election campaign.
Vance returned $32,000 to Kasowitz last week.
“No contribution in my seven years as district attorney has ever had any impact on my decision making,” he said Wednesday. “Contributions are unfortunately a part of running for office.”
Vance is running unopposed in his campaign for re-election.