Harvey Weinstein’s attorney Benjamin Brafman has met with federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York about a criminal probe into sexual abuse allegations against the Hollywood producer.
Brafman confirmed to the New York Law Journal that he met with prosecutors and was hoping to dissuade them from continuing their investigation into alleged nonconsensual sexual acts. Weinstein has maintained he has never engaged in nonconsensual sex.
He declined to provide further details about his discussions, but according to an article in The Wall Street Journal that first reported the federal probe, federal prosecutors have launched their investigation—an unusual step for federal prosecutors given the nature of the allegations—and are looking at whether Weinstein lured or induced women across state lines. To do so with the intent of committing a sexual crime would allow for federal prosecution.
A spokesman for the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.
Allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Weinstein came to light in The New Yorker magazine article that recounted a number of actresses’ claims, from unwanted advances to sexual assault, often with the promise of work on the line, and the threat of retaliation in the industry for failure to comply. Numerous allegations from other women against Weinstein became public after the article was published.
An investigation into Weinstein is currently underway by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office—the same office that was criticized late last year by some who questioned why District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. didn’t move on allegations of sexual assault by Weinstein brought to him by the New York City Police Department in 2015. The details of the allegation were first made in The New Yorker article.
Reports have indicated tensions between Vance’s office and some in the NYPD, both current and former, who don’t believe the office has moved with appropriate speed when it comes to Weinstein.
In a statement, Danny Frost, a spokesman for the Manhattan DA’s Office, said the office’s investigation into Weinstein “is in an advanced stage.”