NY prosecutor says donations had no role in Weinstein case
Posted October 11
Updated October 12
NEW YORK — The New York City prosecutor who chose not to charge Harvey Weinstein two years ago after he was accused of groping a young woman said Wednesday that the decision wasn't influenced by campaign contributions.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has taken thousands of dollars in donations over the years from David Boies, a top lawyer in New York whose clients have included Al Gore during the contested 2000 presidential election. He has also done work for many years for The Weinstein Co.
Representatives for both Vance and Boies say the attorney had no involvement and never contacted prosecutors in 2015 when police investigated a model's accusation that Weinstein grabbed her breasts during a meeting in New York.
Vance told reporters at an event Wednesday that no contribution has ever had any impact on his decision-making.
"If we had a case that we felt we could prosecute and my experts felt we could prosecute against Harvey Weinstein, we would have," he said. "We take on many, many, many difficult sex crime prosecutions with individuals irrespective of their background or their money so that's not an issue for us."
Weinstein, through a spokeswoman, has denied any nonconsensual sexual conduct with any women.
New York City police targeted Weinstein in a short sting operation in 2015 after the model accused him of groping her. The investigation included recording an encounter in a hotel during which Weinstein apologized to the woman and tried to persuade her to come into his room. The recording was obtained by The New Yorker and posted on the magazine's website Tuesday.
Vance said his office's "best lawyers" examined the evidence before deciding, less than two weeks after the woman first made her allegations, to drop the investigation.
"I, like they, were very disturbed by the contents of the tape. It's obviously sickening," Vance said. "But at the end of the day we operate in a courtroom of law not the court of public opinion. And our sex crime prosecutors made a determination that this was not going to be a provable case, and so the decision was made not to go forward."