New York City, Lon­don po­lice tak­ing fresh look at claims

The Palm Beach Post - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Colleen Long

NEW YORK — Po­lice de­tec­tives in New York City and Lon­don are tak­ing a fresh look into sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions against Har­vey We­in­stein now that some 30 women have ac­cused the Hol­ly­wood film pro­ducer of in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct.

New York Po­lice De­part­ment spokesman Peter Don­ald said Thurs­day that in­ves­ti­ga­tors are re­view­ing po­lice files to see if any­one else re­ported be­ing as­saulted or ha­rassed by him.

So far, no filed com­plaints have been found, he said, other than one well-known case that prompted an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in 2015, but au­thor­i­ties are en­cour­ag­ing any­one with in­for­ma­tion on We­in­stein to con­tact the de­part­ment.

Lon­don po­lice were also look­ing into a claim it had re­ceived from the Mersey­side force in north­west Eng­land, Bri­tish me­dia re­ported Thurs­day. Mersey­side po­lice said the al­le­ga­tion was made a day ear­lier and con­cerned “an al­leged sex­ual as­sault in the Lon­don area in the 1980s.”

Some 30 women — in­clud­ing ac­tresses An­gelina Jolie, Ash­ley Judd and Gwyneth Pal­trow — have spo­ken out re­cently to say We­in­stein had sex­u­ally ha­rassed or sex­u­ally as­saulted them. We­in­stein was fired Sun­day by The We­in­stein Co., a stu­dio he co-founded with his brother.

Some of the al­le­ga­tions in­volved con­duct at ho­tels in Bev­erly Hills, but po­lice there didn’t re­turn calls on whether they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing any pos­si­ble crimes. The Los An­ge­les Po­lice De­part­ment has no open in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

De­tec­tives in the NYPD’s spe­cial vic­tims unit were in­structed to iden­tify and speak with any po­ten­tial vic­tims, in­clud­ing the women who spoke about their en­coun­ters with We­in­stein in a re­cent New Yorker ar­ti­cle, ac­cord­ing to a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial briefed on the mat­ter who spoke to The Associated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity.

In The New Yorker ex­pose, a for­mer ac­tress, Lu­cia Evans, said We­in­stein forced her to per­form oral sex in 2004 when she was a col­lege stu­dent.

At least one other un­named woman said she was raped by We­in­stein, but the ar­ti­cle did not dis­close when or where it hap­pened. A third woman, ac­tress Asia Ar­gento, told the mag­a­zine that We­in­stein forcibly per­formed oral sex on her in 1997 at a ho­tel in France.

Un­der New York law, mak­ing some­one en­gage in oral sex by phys­i­cal force or the threat of it is a first-de­gree crim­i­nal sex­ual act. There’s no le­gal time limit for bring­ing charges.

We­in­stein, through a spokes­woman, has de­nied any non­con­sen­sual sex­ual con­duct with any women.

The me­dia mogul has long been a ma­jor fig­ure at the Academy Awards, where his films have reg­u­larly won Os­cars.

He reap­peared briefly on Wed­nes­day out­side a Los An­ge­les home, telling the pa­parazzi he’s “not do­ing OK,” but he’s hop­ing for a “sec­ond chance,” ac­cord­ing to video posted by celebrity web­site TMZ. He also told the pho­tog­ra­phers he needs to “get help” and “we all make mis­takes.”

New York de­tec­tives al­ready in­ves­ti­gated We­in­stein once, the 2015 probe when an Ital­ian model said the stu­dio ex­ec­u­tive grabbed her breasts and groped her. De­tec­tives set up a sting where they recorded a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the woman and We­in­stein while he tried to per­suade her to come into his ho­tel room.

“Why yes­ter­day you touch my breast?” the 22-year-old asked on the record­ing, pub­lished by The New Yorker.

“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in. I’m used to that. Come on. Please,” We­in­stein re­sponded.

Man­hat­tan District At­tor­ney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said prose­cu­tors de­cided there wasn’t enough ev­i­dence to pros­e­cute the case.

“I, like they, were very dis­turbed by the con­tents of the tape,” 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.”

Po­lice in­ves­ti­gated that al­le­ga­tion as a case of forcible touch­ing, a mis­de­meanor with a two-year time limit for bring­ing charges. The statute of lim­i­ta­tions has since ex­pired.

On Thurs­day, ac­tress Kate Beck­in­sale re­counted that she was 17 when We­in­stein greeted her in his bathrobe. Years later, Beck­in­sale said, she met We­in­stein again and he asked if he had tried any­thing at their first meet­ing. She said she re­al­ized “he couldn’t re­mem­ber if he had as­saulted me or not.”

The ac­tress said she re­jected sev­eral of­fers over the years to work with We­in­stein, and he would of­ten re­spond with anger, pro­fan­ity and threats. She called for industry changes to be made to “stop al­low­ing our young women to be sex­ual can­non fod­der.”

The East­ern branch of the Writ­ers Guild of Amer­ica pledged to take ac­tion to pre­vent fu­ture abuse, not­ing that “sex­ual ha­rass­ment and as­sault have long been hall­marks of the en­ter­tain­ment industry.

Fall­out from the nu­mer­ous al­le­ga­tions against We­in­stein, 65, con­tin­ued Thurs­day, with the lead­ers of the Cannes film fes­ti­val ex­press­ing dis­may at the ac­cu­sa­tions.

“These ac­tions point to a pat­tern of be­hav­ior that mer­its only the clear­est and most un­equiv­o­cal con­dem­na­tion,” said fes­ti­val pres­i­dent Pierre Les­cure and gen­eral del­e­gate Thierry Fre­maux.

Ha­chette Book Group, one of the coun­try’s top pub­lish­ers, also an­nounced it has “ter­mi­nated” We­in­stein Books.

Har­vey We­in­stein is sub­ject of sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions.

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