Sex as­sault task force formed

Jackie Lacey as­signs sex crimes prose­cu­tors to al­le­ga­tions against Hol­ly­wood fig­ures.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Richard Win­ton

L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey as­signs prose­cu­tors to ex­am­ine al­le­ga­tions roil­ing Hol­ly­wood.

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey an­nounced Thurs­day the cre­ation of a spe­cial task force to ex­am­ine al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault roil­ing Hol­ly­wood as the num­ber of ac­cu­sa­tions re­ported to po­lice this week climbed.

Lacey made the an­nounce­ment Thurs­day as lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions against such Hol­ly­wood heavy­weights as pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein, direc­tor James To­back and ac­tor Ed West­wick, among oth­ers.

The district at­tor­ney said she has as­signed a group of vet­eran sex crimes prose­cu­tors to work to­gether to ex­am­ine the cases and “en­sure a uni­formed ap­proach to the le­gal re­view and pos­si­ble pros­e­cu­tion of any case that meets both the le­gal and fac­tual stan­dards for crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion.”

Le­gal ex­perts said the task force makes sense but con­tin­ued to cau­tion that such cases can be dif­fi­cult to prove. Many of the al­leged in­ci­dents oc­curred years ago, and de­tec­tives need to de­ter­mine whether phys­i­cal ev­i­dence or wit­ness state­ments ex­ist that can help build cases.

“It does speak to the cul­ture of the city that this is a ma­jor crim­i­nal jus­tice is­sue wor­thy of a task force,” said Lau­rie Leven­son, a for­mer prose­cu­tor and Loy­ola law pro­fes­sor. “It is a good idea to have vet­eran, ex­pe­ri­enced prose­cu­tors on these cases. But peo­ple shouldn’t get their ex­pec­ta­tions up.”

In the month since al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct by We­in­stein first sur-

faced, the num­ber of sex­ual as­sault or lewd con­duct re­ports against Hol­ly­wood fig­ures has steadily es­ca­lated.

Los Angeles po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions of rape and forced oral cop­u­la­tion in 2013 against We­in­stein by an Ital­ian model-ac­tress as well as a lewd act in 2015. De­tec­tives are prob­ing al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault against To­back, whom more than 200 women have ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct. “Gos­sip Girl” ac­tor West­wick is the sub­ject of two women’s al­le­ga­tions he raped them in 2014.

The Bev­erly Hills Po­lice Depart­ment also has open in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­volv­ing We­in­stein and To­back.

All three have pub­licly de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

Some Hol­ly­wood stars have also turned to the LAPD to in­ves­ti­gate their claims of abuse. Ac­tor Terry Crews this week re­ported he was sex­u­ally as­saulted by a prom­i­nent Hol­ly­wood tal­ent agent. The star of TV’s “Brook­lyn Nine-Nine” and for­mer NFL foot­ball player claimed he was groped in 2016 at a party by an agent whose clients in­clude nu­mer­ous A-list ac­tors.

Lacey said po­lice have yet to for­ward any cases to prose­cu­tors for re­view.

“We are in com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the Los Angeles and Bev­erly Hills po­lice depart­ments,” she said in a state­ment.

LAPD’s sex crimes de­tec­tives in its Rob­bery-Homi­cide Di­vi­sion have been vet­ting the cases and work­ing closely with prose­cu­tors. The depart­ment is act­ing as a clear­ing­house for agen­cies in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia as some re­ports are com­ing from other po­lice over­seas.

Los Angeles po­lice of­fi­cials Thurs­day said some of the al­le­ga­tions are too old to pur­sue be­cause of the statute of lim­i­ta­tions for var­i­ous sex crimes. This week, ac­tor Corey Feld­man re­ported to the LAPD that he was sex­u­ally abused by two adults as a child in the in­dus­try.

“Un­for­tu­nately ac­cord­ing to Cal­i­for­nia law the al­leged oc­cur­rence is out of statute, and Rob­bery-Homi­cide de­tec­tives have no other av­enues to pur­sue this case,” said LAPD spokesman Of­fi­cer Sal Ramirez. “How­ever, the LAPD ap­plauds Mr. Feld­man for com­ing for­ward, as an outof-statute as­sault re­port could po­ten­tially bol­ster any cur­rent and forth­com­ing case as it cre­ates a pat­tern of be­hav­ior.”

Chris Pizzello In­vi­sion/AP

THE LAPD is look­ing into at least two al­le­ga­tions of sex crimes against pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein, above. Bev­erly Hills po­lice also have an open in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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