NYPD detectives “hid” an Italian model from the Manhattan district attorney during an investigation into her alleged 2015 sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein, fearing that she would be treated unfairly if her identity was revealed.
Ambra Battilana was the model at the center of the case, with the NYPD going “above and beyond” in hopes that DA Cyrus Vance Jr. would actually prosecute.
NYPD officers reportedly told New York Magazine that they feared that the DA would not prosecute a fellow “man of power,” given his previous prosecution declination over former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
“We decided we’re going to hide the victim,” retired Sgt Michael Bock told the magazine. “From the DA.”
To make matters worse, Weinstein’s legal team included a former partner of the DA, a former member of the NYPD’s sex crimes unit and a friend of current SVD unit commander.
With the odds stacked against them, the NYPD did everything they could to conceal Battilana in plain sight, from Battilana, from keeping info off the computer system to booking her into hotels under assumed names.
Bock described how the DA’s office would treat Battilana, asking Battilana’s roommates if she was a prostitute, inquiring about her sex life and if she was a stripper.
“The questioning was aggressive and accusatory,” Bock said. “The victim was upset. She felt like she was under attack.”
Joan Vollero, an adviser to Vance, rejected claims of aggressive questioning.
“It is customary for prosecutors to discuss potential areas of cross-examination when meeting with complainants,” Vollero told the magazine. “This characterization of the meeting is incorrect and, moreover, troubling. It was a normal, typical interview of a complainant.”
Despite the best efforts of the NYPD, Vance ultimately decided not to prosecute.
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