Under scrutiny, Weinstein prosecutor has a case to prove

NEW YORK — At least in the court of public opinion, the prosecutor leading a rape case against Harvey Weinstein may have more to prove than the charges alone.

But if Manhattan Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is out to answer critics of his past decisions not to pursue sex cases against Weinstein and another powerful man, there was little sign of it as the movie mogul faced a judge Friday.

Steering clear of the cameras that flocked to the courthouse, Vance issued a circumspect statement: “Today’s charges reflect significant progress in this active, ongoing investigation.”

It was typical of the anything-but-flamboyant head of a storied prosecutors’ office with a long history of cases involving the famous and infamous. Subdued and guarded in public, Vance told The Associated Press in 2011: “I don’t think I’ve ever strayed off-message.”

But if going after Weinstein would put any prosecutor under a microscope, Vance is already there.

A state investigation has been examining how the Democratic DA handled a groping allegation against Weinstein three years ago. Women’s-rights activists have protested outside Vance’s office.

And the DA has been shadowed by another high-profile sex case that he ultimately dropped — a 2011 attempted rape prosecution of former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, one of whose lawyers is representing Weinstein.

A former defence lawyer and litigator — and the son of Carter-era Secretary of State Cyrus Vance — the DA won the job in his first run for public office in 2009. Longtime predecessor Robert Morgenthau retired.

Early on, he highlighted such initiatives as a new cybercrime unit and efforts to unclog overloaded misdemeanour courts.

Then a hotel maid accused Strauss-Kahn — then a potential French presidential candidate — of trying to rape her in May 2011. He said the encounter was consensual.

Vance’s office initially called the proof against Strauss-Kahn substantial and growing.

Just three months later, prosecutors dropped the case, saying they had developed doubts about the credibility of Strauss-Kahn’s accuser.

Women’s rights groups urged Vance to press on with the prosecution, and the accuser’s lawyer said the DA denied her justice. She later reached a civil settlement with Strauss-Kahn.

Vance said prosecutors had been forthright about what they found and followed it to a responsible, correct decision.

In the years since, Vance, 63, has positioned himself as a national criminal justice innovator. Thanks to massive penalties paid by banks accused of violating U.S. sanctions, he’s doled out millions of dollars to test rape-evidence kits around the country for DNA and joined with London’s police commissioner in an effort to prevent cyberattacks, among other, more local investments.

He has testified in Congress about cellphone encryption and financial transparency. The New York Times Magazine dubbed him “the data D.A.” in a 2014 piece spotlighting how his office drills down on crime patterns.

And he put his stamp on one of the nation’s most haunting missing-child cases, the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz. After Vance made a campaign pledge to re-examine the case, a 2012 tip led to a new suspect and ultimately a conviction.

As Vance campaigned last fall for a third term, it emerged that he’d closed a two-year-long fraud investigation against President Donald Trump’s children Ivanka and Donald Jr. without charges in 2012 — and accepted a $32,000 campaign donation from their lawyer five months later.

And a dam of long-pent-up sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein broke, with ultimately dozens of women accusing him of sexual harassment or assault.

The outpouring threw new scrutiny on Vance’s decision not to charge Weinstein in 2015, when an Italian model accused him of groping her and recorded him apologizing for his conduct. One of Weinstein’s then-attorneys, a former Vance law partner, had given him over $26,000, the bulk of it before representing the producer.

Weinstein denies ever engaging in non-consensual sex.

Vance returned the gift from the Trumps’ lawyer and announced he would no longer accept campaign contributions from attorneys with business before his office. But he defended his decisions not to prosecute as based on evidence, not influence.

“I, as D.A., have to be guided by the evidence and the element of the crime and by experts in the office,” he told reporters in October. “And if I stop being guided by any of those things and start being guided by outside influences, whether it’s money or it’s public opinion, then I’m not doing my job.”

Just Posted

Parenting: Every woman will have a different pregnancy experience

Wife whose hormones are unbalanced can be unpleasant experience

Men posing as repo men attempt to steal vehicle in Red Deer County

Two men attempted to steal a utility vehicle from a Red Deer… Continue reading

Red Deerian spreads kindness with one card at a time

One Red Deerian wants to combat bullying by spreading kindness in the… Continue reading

Bowden baby in need of surgery

“Help for Alexis” Go Fund Me account

PHOTO: First Rider bus safety in Red Deer

Central Alberta students learned bus safety in the Notre Dame High School… Continue reading

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Woman has finger ripped off at West Edmonton Mall waterslide

SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan woman says she lost a finger after her… Continue reading

Uncertainty looms over Canada’s cannabis tourism, but ambitions are high

TORONTO — Longtime marijuana advocate Neev Tapiero is ready for the cannabis-driven… Continue reading

Feds mulling safeguards to prevent ‘surge’ of cheap steel imports into Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government extended an olive branch of sorts to… Continue reading

Ontario govt caps off summer session by passing bill to cut Toronto council size

TORONTO — The Ontario government passed a controversial bill to slash the… Continue reading

Updated:Italian bridge collapse sends cars plunging, killing 26

MILAN — A 51-year-old highway bridge in the Italian port city of… Continue reading

Saudi Arabia spat affecting Canadians embarking on hajj, community members say

TORONTO — Members of Canada’s Muslim community say recent tensions between Ottawa… Continue reading

Tug carrying up to 22,000 litres of fuel capsizes in Fraser River off Vancouver

VANCOUVER — The smell of diesel filled the air as crews worked… Continue reading

Nebraska executes first inmate using fentanyl

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska carried out its first execution in more than… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month