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Manhattan DA Vance Stands By Decision To Not Go Forward With Case Against Harvey Weinstein In 2015

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said his office would have prosecuted media mogul Harvey Weinstein in 2015 if they had a case.

Vance took questions from reporters Wednesday a day after secretly-recorded audio surfaced of Weinstein trying to coerce a woman into his hotel room.

Model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez says in 2015, Weinstein groped her and tried to put his hand up her skirt. She went to the NYPD who asked her to wear a wire. The next day, Gutierrez recorded the conversation as Weinstein tried to get her into his hotel room.

The audio was obtained by The New Yorker:

GUTIERREZ: Why yesterday you touch my breast?
WEINSTEIN: Oh, please, I'm sorry. Just come on in, I'm used to that. Come on. Please.
GUTIERREZ: You're used to that?
WEINSTEIN: Yes, come in.
GUTIERREZ: No, but I'm not used to that.
WEINSTEIN: I won't do it again, come on, sit here.

The NYPD said it investigated a misdemeanor sexual abuse complaint against Weinstein at that time and referred the case to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

The DA's office ultimately decided not to file charges.

"Our sex crimes prosecutors made the determination that this was not going to be a provable case and so the decision was made not to go forward," Vance said Wednesday.

"That's the basis for it. I understand that folks are outraged by his behavior, I understand that there are many other allegations that have surfaced but in our case we really did what I think the law obligated us to do," Vance added.

CBS2's Dave Carlin went to the DA to demand answers.

Our best lawyers looked at the matter. I like they, were very disturbed," he said.

Vance said that even though the NYPD felt there was enough proof to prosecute, the decision was made not to pursue charges.

"We made the decision as an office," he said.

Vance was also asked if he regretted taking donations from Weinstein's attorney.

"No contribution ever in my seven years as district attorney has ever had any impacts on my decision making in a case," Vance said. "Contributions are unfortunately a part of running for office, they are legal and I have a very sound vetting system. So the answer is 'I don't regret as a DA having to raise money in order to campaign for office.'"

Some wonder if the decision not to charge was special treatment for those donations.

When asked if he gave the money back, Vance told CBS2 to 'call the campaign.'

Weinstein also has reportedly entered a sex rehabilitation facility overseas amid a tidal wave of allegations from 25 women.

Weinstein is also facing an onslaught of anger and criticism from Hollywood's A-list, political heavyweights, and his immediate family.

Weinstein's wife of 10 years, Georgina Chapman, announced she was leaving her husband.

The woman behind the Marchesa label, issued a statement to People magazine saying, "My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions."

"I have chosen to leave my husband. Caring for my young children is my first priority and I ask the media for privacy at this time," Chapman said in her statement.

When the scandal broke last week in The New York Times, Weinstein told reporters Chapman was standing behind him.

Weinstein's brother and business partner Bob Weinstein, pulled no punches.

"My brother Harvey is obviously a very sick man," he said. "I've urged him to seek immediate professional help because he is in dire need of it. His remorse and apologies to the victims of his abuse are hollow... he has proven himself to be a world class liar and now rather than seeking help he is looking to blame others."

Two bombshell investigations, from The New York Times and The New Yorker have the film industry in a state of shock as more and more women come forward.

Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow told The Times in a follow-up report that they were sexually harassed by Weinstein early in their careers.

Jolie said she "chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did."

Paltrow said she told her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt, who confronted Weinstein. But Paltrow kept working with Weinstein and didn't go public until now.

"I was expected to keep the secret" she said.

Actress Katherine Kendall's meeting with Harvey Weinstein two decades ago is still fresh in her mind.

"He came back out one hundred percent fully naked," Kendall recalled, and said Weinstein told her, "Just give me a massage, just let me kiss you. Well if you won't give me a massage then will you at least pick up your shirt and let me see your breasts? And I'm like 'No. I'm leaving.'"

Separately, three women accused Weinstein of raping them in a story published online by The New Yorker, including the Italian actress Asia Argento and a woman who was an aspiring actress in college when she caught Weinstein's eye.

"It's a difficult thing to tell these stories," said New Yorker contributor Ronan Farrow, who conducted a 10-month investigation for the magazine. "Almost every woman in this story talked about profound fears of retaliation, of shame, and they did this anyway."

Attorneys for Weinstein, 65, did not immediately return messages Tuesday. The New Yorker quoted Weinstein representative Sallie Hofmeister responding that "any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein."

"Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can't speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual," said Hofmeister. "Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance."


The New Yorker also reported that 16 former and current executives and assistants at The Weinstein Co. and Miramax either  witnessed or knew of Weinstein's alleged unwanted sexual advances.

The Weinstein Co. board of directors, which includes Weinstein's brother Bob, issued a statement late Tuesday, denying any culpability.

"These alleged actions are antithetical to human decency. These allegations come as an utter surprise to the board. Any suggestion that the board had knowledge of this conduct is false," the four-member board said in a statement. "We are committed to assisting with our full energies in all criminal or other investigations of these alleged acts, while pursuing justice for the victims and a full and independent investigation of our own."

Weinstein was fired Sunday by the Weinstein Co., the studio he co-founded, three days after the bombshell New York Times expose alleged decades of crude sexual behavior on his part toward female employees and actresses, including Ashley Judd.

Weinstein responded to the report in a lengthy, rambling statement in which he pleaded for a second chance and apologized for the pain he had caused.

Since his firing, much of Hollywood has reacted with disgust and outraged, including Meryl Streep, Lena Dunham, Jennifer Lawrence and George Clooney.

Congressional Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, have given charities thousands of dollars in donations they had received from Weinstein.

In a statement on Twitter on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said she was "shocked and appalled" by the revelations about Weinstein. She praised the women coming forward: "Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior."

Former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, released a joint statement Tuesday evening expressing disgust with Weinstein.

"Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status. We should celebrate the courage of women who have come forward to tell these painful stories," the statement said.

"I am saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades," Ben Affleck wrote in a statement Tuesday. "The additional allegations of assault that I read this morning made me sick. This is completely unacceptable, and I find myself asking what I can do to make sure this doesn't happen to others."

Matt Damon, who collaborated frequently with Weinstein and won a co-writing Oscar for "Good Will Hunting" with Affleck, said he didn't know about Weinstein's behavior.

"This morning, I just feel absolutely sick to my stomach," Damon told the trade website Deadline Tuesday. "This kind of stuff can't happen."

Weinstein has not publicly commented since Thursday.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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