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Harvey Weinstein

New York police building rape case against disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein

Police would arrest Weinstein if he were in New York City, detective says, adding rape allegations are credible

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 November, 2017, 6:55am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 November, 2017, 6:55am

New York City police said on Friday that an actress’ rape allegations against Harvey Weinstein are credible, and if the movie mogul was in the state and the accusation more recent, they would move to arrest him immediately.

Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said investigators have interviewed actress Paz de la Huerta. She has publicly accused Weinstein of raping her twice in her flat in 2010 and called police about it on October 26.

Boyce said detectives found the “Boardwalk Empire” actress’ story believable and that two people corroborated portions of her account. They have subpoenaed people in the case.

“If this person was still in New York, and it was recent, we’d go right away and make the arrest. No doubt,” Boyce said of Weinstein. “But we’re talking about a 7-year-old case. And we have to move forward gathering evidence first.”

The factors that made her story credible included: “The ability to articulate each and every minute of the crime, where she was, where they met, where this happened and what he did,” he said.

An email message sent to Weinstein representative Sallie Hofmeister was not immediately returned. Weinstein, 65, has previously denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

The investigation comes a month after The New York Times published an expose of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein, leading to his firing from the company he cofounded and his expulsion from the organisation that bestows the Academy Awards. Since then, dozens of women have come forward to tell similar tales of harassment or assault.

Investigators in London and California were also looking into allegations made by women, but no other department has suggested allegations could result in criminal charges. New York does not have a statute of limitations on rape charges.

De la Huerta said that the first rape occurred in October 2010 after Weinstein gave her a ride home from a party, insisted on having a drink in her flat and forced himself on her. She said the second rape occurred in December 2010 after Weinstein came to her flat. She had been drinking and was not in a condition to give consent, the actress said.

Police said she did not come forward earlier because she was afraid of damaging her career and was not sure anyone would believe the allegations against such a powerful Hollywood player.

Weinstein has a flat in New York City, but his exact whereabouts on Friday were unknown. His representatives have not responded to inquiries about where he is, but TMZ on Friday posted a photo of a man it said was Weinstein in disguise eating at a Phoenix restaurant.

A person who answered the phone and said he was a manager at the Chestnut Fine Foods&Provisions restaurant in Phoenix said Weinstein dined there Thursday night. The person declined to give their name.

New York City investigators could seek an arrest warrant, which requires a court order, or hand the evidence over to prosecutors to put the allegations to a grand jury to seek an indictment. Either way, they need collaboration from Manhattan prosecutors, who put the brakes on a 2015 investigation into Weinstein.

Ambra Battilana Gutierrez told police the movie magnate touched her thigh, grabbed her breasts and asked “are these real?” during a meeting in his Manhattan office on March 27, 2015. Police investigated it as a possible case of forcible touching, a misdemeanour with a two-year time limit for bringing charges under New York law.

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Investigators conducted a sting, listening to a call between the two and getting the Italian model to record an in-person encounter in which Weinstein alternated between trying to persuade her to come into his hotel room and apologising for his conduct at his office.

No charges were brought, because the district attorney concluded they were not supported.

After the recent flood of allegations against Weinstein brought new scrutiny of that decision, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s top assistant prosecutor said that police had arranged the 2015 sting without prosecutors’ knowledge and that there were other “proof issues.”

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The NYPD pushed back, saying it had used established investigative techniques to present prosecutors with a recording that corroborated Gutierrez’s complaint, plus other statements and information.

Boyce said detectives were working collaboratively with the district attorney’s office on this case. Vance’s office said a senior prosecutor has been assigned but did not comment further.