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NOW Calls DA's Decision Not to Prosecute Weinstein 'Indefensible' at Rally

By Ben Fractenberg | October 13, 2017 3:49pm
 NOW spokeswoman Jane Manning said District Attorney Cyrus Vance should have charged Harvey Weinstein for groping Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in 2015. Manning spoke at a press conference across the street from Vance's office in New York Criminal Court on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017.
NOW spokeswoman Jane Manning said District Attorney Cyrus Vance should have charged Harvey Weinstein for groping Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in 2015. Manning spoke at a press conference across the street from Vance's office in New York Criminal Court on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

CIVIC CENTER — Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s decision not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein for the alleged 2015 groping of an Italian model was “indefensible,” members of National Organization for Women said Friday — with the group stopping short of calling for the top prosecutor's resignation.

More than a dozen members of the group rallied across the street from DA’s office Friday afternoon while holding placards portraying Weinstein in jail and one that read, “Women Don’t Trust Vance,” while calling for a “full accounting” of his decision not to bring charges against the mogul.

“Most sexual predators rely on one simple five-word plan: no one will believe her. And too often the criminal justice system proves them right. It proved Harvey Weinstein right, or at least half right,” said NOW Director of Advocacy Jane Manning during the press conference, adding that the NYPD properly investigated and got an audio confession from the mogul.

“But when the case came before District Attorney Cyrus Vance, he lived right up to Harvey Weinstein’s hopes. The police believed the victim and wanted Weinstein prosecuted. The district attorney refused.”

Manning, a former sex-crimes prosecutor, added that Vance “absolutely had enough evidence to prosecute” Weinstein.

“The victim’s account alone was legally sufficient. The tape obtained by the NYPD investigation provided extra,” Manning said.“The District Attorney chose not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein and his decision is indefensible.”

NOW President Sonia Ossorio said the group was not yet calling for Vance to resign, but said his office needed to do more to regain the trust of women in the city. The group is calling for felony charges against the disgraced movie mogul.

Vance’s decision came under scrutiny after The New Yorker released audio of Weinstein apologizing after model Battilana Gutierrez confronted him about grabbing her breast.

Sources at the time told DNAinfo New York that there were questions about her credibility after she denied being involved in legal cases in Italy that were in the public record.

Manning described that reasoning as victim-blaming and “irrelevant details of her past personal life.”

A spokeswoman for Vance said his commitment to "victims of sex crimes is unmatched" and that he has some of the strongest prosecutors in the country. 

"DA Vance has also allocated $38 million to test 56,000 untested rape kits in 32 jurisdictions in 20 states from coast-to-coast. Our office has strongly encouraged any new potential victims to come forward,"  spokeswoman Joan Vollero said. 

"We intend to work jointly with our partners in the NYPD on any subsequent investigations that emerge. When our office's ability to prosecute these types of cases is inaccurately called into question, it serves to dissuade potential victims from coming forward and reporting crimes to law enforcement.”

The NYPD said it would reinvestigate sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein