In the wake of the report, Vance, who is running for his third term in October, returned the donation.
Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance has said he was "sickened" by the audio, but added he felt it was not enough to secure a conviction. Sometimes sex crimes prosecutors have to be creative and assertive-and that's the road that was not taken here.
The decision by the Manhattan district attorney's office is getting new scrutiny since a dozen women told The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine Weinstein sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them in various locales.
Among the allegations that the newspaper recounted was one in 2015, in which Italian model Ambra Battilana accused Weinstein of groping her. Battilana contacted law enforcement officials, but in April of 2015, Vance's office declined to bring charges against Weinstein, saying that "after analyzing the available evidence, including multiple interviews with both parties, a criminal charge is not supported". Representatives of the DA's office said that was standard procedure when a donor has a case before the office. Our best lawyers looked at the matter.
"I, like they, were very disturbed by the contents of the tape".
Weinstein has contributed over the years to the Democratic National Committee, along with Hillary Clinton and former President Obama. "But at the end of the day we operate in a courtroom of law, not the court of public opinion", Vance told the group of gathered journalists on Wednesday.
"After the complaint was made in 2015, the NYPD - without our knowledge or input - arranged a controlled call and meeting between the complainant and Mr. Weinstein".
"No contribution in my seven years as district attorney has ever had any impact on my decision making", he said Wednesday. "And our sex crime prosecutors made a determination that this was not going to be a provable case, and so the decision was made not to go forward".
In a statement today, Vance's office blamed the NYPD and said that "while the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under ny law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent".
"We really did what I think the law obligates us to do - focus on the evidence and the facts that we had", he said. "This, coupled with other proof issues, meant that there was no choice but to conclude the investigation without criminal charges". 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.
"The detectives used well established investigative techniques".
Members of the NYPD familiar with the case were furious at the suggestion that their work was subpar and said prosecutors were responsible for the softball treatment afforded the Hollywood bigwig.
In a statement, the Manhattan district attorney's office has laid the blame for its failure to prosecute Harvey Weinstein on the NYPD. "Obviously he has some serious issues".
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