New York County District Attorney for Manhattan Cyrus Vance Jr. is under fire for his handling of an investigation into a complaint filed by an accuser of Harvey Weinstein.
New audio released October 10 shows that the New York Police Department had set up a sting operation to get a confession out of Weinstein in relation to the sexual assault complaint. Despite the audio, Vance’s office declined to filed charges against Weinstein following a two-week investigation.
Vance, 63, has been the district attorney for over seven years and is a registered member of the Democratic party.
Here’s what you need to know about Vance:
1. Vance’s Office Decided Not to File Charges Against Weinstein Despite Him Appearing to Admit the Assault
In the days that have followed numerous accusations of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, Vance’s involvement in the 2015 police sting has come to light. One of the many allegations made against Weinstein was from Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, and she claims the producer groped on one occasion.
The New Yorker‘s Ronan Farrow wrote a lengthy piece October 10 describing the encounter in great detail. He uncovered a New York Police Department recording from a sting one day after Gutierrez claimed she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
Gutierrez reportedly told police that the assault began with Weinstein sitting with her in his office with her modeling portfolio in front of him. Suddenly, he began touching her breasts and “lunged at her.” At one point, she said Weinstein attempted to put his hand up her skirt, despite her continuous refusal. He finally stopped and told her that his assistant would give her tickets to a Broadway play he was producing for that evening, Farrow’s article in The New Yorker said. But instead of going to the show, Gutierrez went to police and reported the assault.
At the police station, officers reportedly hatched a plan to put a wire on Gutierrez in an effort to get a confession out of Weinstein. So, the next day she agreed to attend the play and met Weinstein in the hallway of the Tribeca Grand Hotel. They went up to his room, and he told her he was going to take a shower while she sat and watched nearby. Gutierrez continuously said she didn’t want to, adding, “Yesterday was kind of aggressive for me.”
Weinstein tells Gutierrez at one point during the recording not to embarrass him at the hotel, and he vowed to “never see” her again after the incident.
“I’m not going to do anything, I swear on my children, please come in,” Weinstein says, ordering her to come into the room to watch him bathe. “On everything, I’m a famous guy. Please come in now for one minute.”
“Yesterday you touched by breasts,” Gutierrez says at one point, with Weinstein replying that he’s “used to that.”
Listen to the shocking audio below:
Despite the recording, Weinstein was never charged in the incident. He would have likely faced third-degree sexual abuse charges, a misdemeanor in New York.
According to The New Yorker, the reason Weinstein was never charged was because background information about Gutierrez’s past came out in tabloids shortly after, and it included past sexual assault allegations where she ended up declining to cooperate with prosecutors. After about two weeks of investigating her allegations against Weinstein, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office declined to file charges.
But an unidentified source close to the investigation told Farrow that there were several red flags in the investigation, and Weinstein should have been charged.
“We had the evidence,” the source told Farrow. “It’s a case that made me angrier than I thought possible, and I have been on the force a long time.”
The Manhattan DA’s office released a statement after the story was published, saying that if they could have prosecuted him, they would have.
Gutierrez declined to comment in The New Yorker story, but a source told Farrow that the two parties settled and she signed a “highly restrictive nondisclosure agreement.”
2. Vance Received Campaign Contributions From Donald Trump’s Lawyer After He Dropped an Investigation Into His Children
In recent weeks, Vance has received criticism for receiving a $50,000 contribution to his campaign from President Donald Trump‘s attorney, Marc Kasowitz. The notable contributions came after Vance dropped an investigation into fraud allegedly committed by Trump’s children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.
The two children were under investigation by Vance’s office in 2012 for allegedly “misleading investors” in a hotel and condominium project in NYC’s SoHo neighborhood, a report by ProPublica said. The project was reportedly failing to sell condos and rooms, and evidence in emails appear to show that the two Trump children knew they were using inaccurate figures about how the condos were selling.
The legal defense team for the two Trump children admitted that their clients “made exaggerated claims,” but said they didn’t amount to criminal charges.
Kasowitz met with Vance at his office in May 2012, and the D.A. overruled his prosecutors in the case. The investigation was dropped three months after the meeting.
“I did not at the time believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had been committed,” he told ProPublica. “I had to make a call and I made the call, and I think I made the right call.”
With the allegations of campaign contributions coming to light, Vance told ProPublica he intends to give back the $50,000 donation from Kasowitz.
“I don’t want the money to be a millstone around anybody’s neck, including the office’s,” he said to the publication.
Kasowitz justified his donations to Vance in a statement to ProPublica, saying he made the contributions because he saw him as a “brilliant lawyer.”
I donated to Cy Vance’s campaign because I was and remain extremely impressed by him as a person of impeccable integrity, as a brilliant lawyer and as a public servant with creative ideas and tremendous ability. I have never made a contribution to anyone’s campaign, including Cy Vance’s, as a ‘quid-pro-quo’ for anything.
3. Vance’s Father Served Under JFK, Lyndon B. Johnson & Jimmy Carter
Vance was born in New York City on June 14, 1954 and is the son of Cyrus Vance, Sr. The elder Vance served under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson as the Secretary of the Army and the Deputy of the Secretary of Defense, respectively. He also served a President Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of State. He died in 2002 from pneumonia and other complications.
The younger Vance attended the Buckley School and Groton School and then graduated from Yale University. He went to Georgetown University Law Center and earned his Juris Doctor from the school in 1982.
4. Vance Was Elected D.A. In 2009 & Was Re-Elected in 2013
After he graduated from Georgetown, Vance was hired in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office as an assistant D,A. In the role, he managed numerous grand jury investigations and often prosecuted criminal cases involving murder, organized crime and corruption. But he ended up moving to Seattle in 1988 because he wanted to get away from his father’s name and create a career independently. He co-founded a law firm in Seattle and taught at Seattle University’s School of Law before he was hired by a firm back in NYC, where he served as a partner.
In 2008, Vance announced that he was running for the DA seat if Robert Morgenthau decided to retire. Once Morgenthau’s decision to step down was made, Vance officially launched his campaign. He received numerous high-profile endorsements from local dignitaries and publications prior to the election and was the clear front runner for the job. He was victorious in the Democratic primary and won the general election November 3, 2009 by an overwhelming margin. He didn’t run against a Republican, and received 91 percent of the vote. He was subsequently re-elected on November 5, 2013.
Some of Vance’s achievements as D.A. over his tenure include” taking down multiple street gangs, dismantling several major domestic and international cybercrime and identity theft operations and bringing the first convictions of individuals on state terror charges in New York State Court,” his biography on the county’s website says.
5. Vance Got Married in 1984 & Has 2 Children
Vance married Peggy McDonnell in 1984 in Peapack, New Jersey.
McDonnell graduated from Hamilton College prior to that and served as an administrative assistant with the Taylor Galleries in Dublin, Ireland for several years. Her father was once the vice president of Allen & Company, a New York investment banking company. The couple have two grown children together.