"If we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have".
And a recently published report said a lawyer for the Trump family donated to Vance's re-election campaign shortly before his office dropped a fraud investigation. "We take on many, many, many hard sex crime prosecutions with individuals irrespective of background or their money", said Vance. One state lawmaker is now calling on New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate Vance for possible corruption.
Weinstein has denied having any non-consensual sexual contact with women.
Vance caught flak this week over his decision not to file charges against Weinstein in 2015 over his alleged assault of Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. Representatives of the DA's office said that was standard procedure when a donor has a case before the office.
"We have probably the best sex crime prosecutor's office in the country".
"I felt very powerless and scared", she said. "It's obviously sickening, but at the end of the day we operate in the court of law, not in the court of public opinion".
Vance has been Manhattan's top prosecutor since 2010 and has been involved in numerous city's major cases - from the successful prosecution of an art dealer's $120 million fraud to rounding up more than 100 police officers and firefighters for a massive disability scam. And the International Business Times reported that David Boies, a lawyer for Weinstein, contributed $10,000 to Vance's campaign after he decided not to bring charges.
"Contributions are, unfortunately, a part of running for office", Vance said Wednesday.
He repeatedly noted that it was "legal" for district attorneys to receive contributions from defense law firms while running for election, but hinted that he may change his position on accepting those contributions in the future.
The NYPD confirmed that it investigated a "misdemeanor sexual abuse complaint against Harvey Weinstein" in March 2015.
But Vance said that while he understood "folks were outraged" by Weinstein's behavior, top sex crime prosecutors investigated the incident and determined they couldn't move forward.
Friedman-Agnifilo accuses NYPD detectives of failing to get proper direction on the surveillance, and that the recording - while "horrifying" - was "insufficient to prove a crime under NY law". "Subsequent investigative steps undertaken in order to establish intent were not successful. This, coupled with other proof issues, meant that there was no choice but to conclude the investigation without criminal charges", it said. Their special victims unit has plenty of experience in dealing with sexual-assault allegations, at least those involving people whose names don't rhyme with Shmarvey Shmeinstein. This follow-up recorded conversation was just one aspect of the case against the subject. The tape was handed over to the District Attorney in Manhattan.
"They had no impact on my thinking", Vance said Wednesday at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.
Joan Vollero, communications director for the Manhattan District Attorney's office, said the office didn't consider Abramowitz's donation a conflict of interest because he didn't personally represent anyone before the DA's office at the time.
"Obviously he [Weinstein] has some serious issues, and the tape is awful".