N.Y.C. D.A.’S OFFICE UNDER SCRUTINY

New York Magazine penned a shocking exposé alleging that the Manhattan district attorney’s office may have failed to prosecute Harvey Weinstein in 2015 for alleged sexual harassment because of the film mogul’s political connections. Now, Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed the state attorney general to review the office’s handling of the case. The details ahead with the magazine’s features editor, Eric Bates.

Aired on March 22, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS,' I'M JACK FORD, GOVERNOR CUOMO HAS DIRECTED THE STATE'S ATTORNEY GENERAL TO INVESTIGATE -- JUST HOW DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE'S OFFICE HANDLED A 2015 SEXUAL ASSAULT ALLEGATION AGAINST THE DISGRACED MOVIE MOGUL HARVEY WINESTEIN.

THE ACTIVIST FROM THE ME TOO MOVEMENT CALLED ON VANCE TO ACT.

THE FOCUS IS SPECIFICALLY ON THE CASE OF AN ITALIAN MODEL WHO PROVIDED POLICE OFFICERS WITH A RECORDINGS OF HARVEY WINESTEIN APOLOGIZING WHEN SHE ASKED HIM WHY HE HAD GROPED HER BREASTS THE DAY BEFORE.

A NEW YORK MAGAZINE FEATURE PIECE SELLS ABOUT ALANA'S STORY IN DEPTH AND DETAILS HOW THE EFFORTS OF THE NYPD SEX CRIMES INVESTIGATION TEAM FAILED TO INVESTIGATE WINESTEIN.

LET ME ASK YOU TO GIVE OUR VIEWERS A LITTLE BIT MORE OF AN EXPANSIVE VIEW OF THE ALLEGATIONS THAT AMBRA BROUGHT TO THE POLICE ABOUT HER CONTACT WITH HARVEY WINESTEIN.

SHE WALKED INTO A PRECINCT IN MARCH OF 2015, AND SAID THAT SHE HAD BEEN GROPED BY HARVEY WINESTEIN THE NIGHT BEFORE.

SHE HAD GONE TO HIS OFFICE TO TALK ABOUT POSSIBLE ROLES HE WOULD HAVE FOR HER.

AND WHEN SHE GOT THERE, HE ASKED IF HER BREASTS WERE REAL.

S HE PUT HIS HAND UP HER SKIRT AND GROPED.

I MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION THAT ONE OF THE ASPECTS OF THESE ALLEGATIONS THAT ARE CERTAINLY DIFFERENT FROM SOME OF THE OTHER ALLEGATIONS THAT WE HAVE SEEN OUT THERE WAS THAT THEY WERE ABLE TO GET HARVEY WINESTEIN ESSENTIALLY ON TAPE TALKING ABOUT THIS.

HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

IT HAPPENED ACTUALLY WHILE SHE WAS TALKING TO THE DETECTIVES IN GIVING HER STATEMENT, WINESTEIN CALLED HER UP AND ASKED HER WHY SHE HADN'T SHOWN UP AT THE BROADWAY THEATER FOR THE SHOW HE HAD GOTTEN HER TICKETS FOR.

AND THE POLICE THINKING VERY QUICKLY THAT THIS WAS WHAT THEY CALLED A CONTROL CALL, AN OPPORTUNITY TO RECORD WINESTEIN AND EFFECTIVELY GET AN ADMISSION ON TAPE S.

SO THEY COACHED HER ABOUT WHAT TO SAY.

AND THEN AT THAT POINT WITHIN BASICALLY AN HOUR OR SO, THE INVESTIGATION BEGINNING HAD A TAPED ADMISSION FROM HARVEY WINESTEIN.

Z

I'M A FORMER PROSECUTOR, ALSO A FORMER DEFENSE ATTORNEY.

SO LOOKING AT WHAT YOU HAVE CLAIMED SO FAR, I'M SAYING THIS IS SOUNDING PRETTY SOLID IN TERMS OF A CASE HERE.

WHAT THEN CHANGES?

AND SOME OF THE CHARACTERSMICHA INVESTIGATOR HANDLING THE CASE.

THEY REALIZED THEY HAD TO HA HANDLE THIS CASE DIFFERENTLY.

THEY PUT NONE OF THEIR RECORDS ON THE NYPD SYSTEM, THEY GAVE REPORTS TO EACH OTHER ONLY ORALLY, NOT IN WRITING, THEY LIMITED THEIR INVESTIGATION TO ONLY SIX OFFICERS, BECAUSE THEY KNEW THAT WINESTEIN WOULD LAWYER UP AND TRY TO BRING PRESSURE ON THEM TO DROP THE INVESTIGATION.

WHAT'S FASCINATING FROM THE VERY SMART, THEY DEBATED WHETHER TO CALL ATTORNEY SY VANCE.

THE CASE GOT BETTER ALMOST IMMEDIATELY, BECAUSE THE POLICE USED THE CALL TO SET UP A MEETING THE NEXT DAY.

AT THAT MEETING WHICH THE POLICE RECORDED, THEY AGAIN GOT WINESTEIN ON TAPE ADMITTING THAT HE HAD MOLESTED HER.

THEY APPROACHED HIM TO BRING HIM DOWN TO THE STATION HOUSE, AND HE IMMEDIATELY BEGAN TO THREATEN THE DETECTIVES SAYING, I KNOW THE POLICE COMMISSIONER, I'M GOING TO CALL THE MAYOR AND WHEN THEY TOOK HIM INTO THE POLICE STATION AND WHEN HE HEARD THAT B SHE -- THE LAWYERS HE HIRED WERE DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO SY VANCE'S OFFICE.

THE LAWYERS THEN HIRED THE WOMAN WHO WAS THE HEAD OF VANCE'S OWN SEX CRIMES UNIT.

SO THE FORMER PROSECUTOR IN CHARGE OF SEX CRIMES FOR THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY WAS NOW WORKING ON WINESTEIN'S BEHALF.

SO VANCE IMMEDIATELY WAS FACING A TEAM OF VERY HIGH POWERED LAWYERS WHO HE KNEW PERSONALLY AND WHO HAD WORKED FOR HIM AND WITH HIS TEAM.

THE POLICE FROM THAT MOMENT BEGAN TO FEEL THAT THEY WEREN'T ON THE SAME SIDE AS THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY ANYMORE.

THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ACCORDING TO OUR SOURCES WENT TO AMBER'S APARTMENT, BEGAN TO INTERROGATE HER ROOMMATE, ASKED IF SHE WAS A PROSTITUTE, ASKED IF SHE WERE A STRIPPER, ASKED TO LOOK AT THE APARTMENT BUILDING'S VIDEO CAMERA, TO SEE WHO SHE WAS BRINGING HOME.

AND BATALANA WHEN SHE HEARD THIS BEGAN TO CRY AND WAS VERY UPSET AND THE POLICE BECAME CONVINCED THAT VANCE WAS ACTIVELY WORKING TO DISCREDIT --

THE NYPD WORKS AS AN INVESTIGATIVE BRANCH, THEY WORK IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE MANHATTAN ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, MOST CASES ARE COMING THROUGH THE NYPD, THROUGH THOSE CHANNELS IF YOU WILL.

AND I EXPECT VIEWERS WILL SAY, AREN'T THEY PARTNERS IN ALL OF THIS?

WHY WOULD THERE BE A DIVISION HERE, AND I SHOULD NOTE, AND YOU KNOW, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE RELEASED A STATEMENT SAYING THE WITNESS'S ACCOUNT DOES NOT -- THE TWO OFFICES, QUOTE, ARE FULLY COMMITTED PARTNERS IN THEIR INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT.

NOW LOOKING AT YOUR -- THE CONVERSATION YOUR REPORTERS HAVE HAD AND ESPECIALLY WITH CHIEF OSGOOD, WHY DO THEY BELIEVE, DO YOU THINK, THAT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE WAS TRYING TO, USING THE WORDS THAT WERE USED IN THE ARTICLE, TO DERAIL THIS INVESTIGATION INTO HARVEY WINESTEIN?

WHAT'S INTERESTING IS THAT THEY FEARED THAT FROM THE VERY START OF THE INVESTIGATION.

AND I THINK THAT'S IN PART BECAUSE OF THEIR EXPERIENCE WITH THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE AND WORKING WITH THEM AND IT'S IN PART THAT THE CLOUT THAT THEY KNEW WINESTEIN WOULD BRING TO BEAR.

YOU'RE RIGHT, THE POLICE AND THE PROSECUTORS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE WORKING TOGETHER TO BRING SOLID CASES AND TO BRING PERPETRATORS TO JUSTICE.

THEY HAVE TO FIGURE OUT IS THIS GOING TO HOLD UP IN COURT, AND IS THE JURY GOING TO BELIEVE THE WITNESS AND THE VICTIM?

SO THEY DO HAVE DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS WITHIN THE SYSTEM BUT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE SAME TEAM.

BUT THE POLICE CLEARLY DID NOT FEEL THAT THE DA'S OFFICE WAS NOT ON THE TEAM AND THAT'S BECAUSE OF POLITICS.

THE POLICE ARE LARGELY ALLOWED TO INVESTIGATE ON THEIR OWN.

THE DA IS AN ELECTED OFFICIAL, HE MOVES AMONG THE POWER CENTERS OF THE CITY, I THINK THE POLICE FELT THAT THE DA WAS GOING TO SIDE WITH THE PERSON WHO HAD THE MOST CLOUT, RATHER THAN THE PERSON WHO HAD A CRIME PERPETRATED AGAINST THEM.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU THEN.

IT HAPPENS OCCASIONALLY, AND IT'S HAPPENED TO ME.

WHERE A PROSECUTOR HAS TO SAY TO THE INVESTIGATORS, I UNDERSTAND YOUR ZEAL TO GET THIS PERSON OFF THE STREETS.

HOWEVER, WE HAVE DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS, YOU PUT TOGETHER A CASE, THERE'S ENOUGH THERE, WHAT'S CALLED PROBABLE CAUSE TO GET AN INDICTMENT, BUT I AS THE PROSECUTOR HAVE TO TRY IT AND I HAVE TO PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT TO GET A CONVICTION.

WHAT I HAVE TO SAY TO INVESTIGATORS IS IF WE BRING A HIGH PROFILE CASE SUCH AS THIS, AND WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TO PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT WE'RE GOING TO LOOK BAD AND THE CASE GOES AWAY.

WHAT DID YOU FIND THE RESPONSE WAS, CHIEF OSGOOD AND THE INVESTIGATORS TO WHEN THE DA SAID, YOU DIDN'T BRING US ENOUGH TO GET A CONVICTION, YOU DIDN'T BRING US PROOF BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.

WHAT'S INTERESTING IS HOW ANGRY IS OFFICERS WHO WORKED ON THE CASE STILL ARE THREE YEARS LATER ABOUT THE DA'S DECISION.

THEY FELT THEY HAD MORE THAN ENOUGH EVIDENCE FOR PROBABLE CAUSE AND REASONABLE DOUBT.

ONE OF THEM POINTED OUT, I THINK ONE OF THEM DID POINT OUT, BUT ONE OF THE ONES THEY CAME UP WITH IS, THIS IS A MISDEMEANOR CHARGE, PEOPLE ARE CHARGED ALL THE TIME FOR GROPING WOMEN ON THE SUBWAY WITH FAR LESS EVIDENCE THAN THEY HAD AGAINST HARVEY WINESTEIN, WITH EFFECTIVELY TWO COMMISSIONS OF THE CRIME.

THE POLICE KNEW WHAT THEY WERE FACING AND THEY KNEW THAT THE BAR WAS GOING TO BE MUCH HIGHER IN THIS CASE AND THEY FELT THEY MORE THAN CLEARED THAT BAR.

IT WAS A COMPELLING AND REALLY PROVOCATIVE ARTICLE AND WE APPRECIATE YOU SPENDING YOUR TIME AND SHARING SOME OF YOUR THOUGHTS WITH US.

YOU TAKE CARE.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

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