Time's Up demands probe into why no Weinstein prosecution

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New York (AFP)

The Time's Up movement campaigning against sexual harassment on Monday demanded an investigation into a Manhattan prosecutor for failing to bring a criminal case against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

The group called on New York's Democratic state governor, Andrew Cuomo, to open an investigation to determine why Cyrus Vance did not prosecute the 66-year-old Hollywood ex-powerbroker in a 2015 case, arguing it could have saved other potential victims.

Italian model Ambra Battilana was one of the first women to come forward accusing Weinstein of sexual assault. But her case was dismissed and discredited.

Reports that Vance "could have been improperly influenced" by Weinstein and that senior officials in the Manhattan district attorney's office "may have sought to intimidate Battilana are particularly disturbing and merit investigation," the movement said.

"An independent investigation into the full decision-making process in this case, including a full review of the correspondence within the office and with any representatives for Mr Weinstein, must be undertaken immediately," it added.

"Given the multitude of credible reports of Mr Weinstein's behaviors after the DA's decision not to prosecute in this case, arguably his continued victimization of others could have been avoided."

There was no immediate comment from the prosecutor's office.

"It's very much under active investigation, I really can't say anything else," Vance told AFP last week when asked about the possibility of Weinstein being charged.

Weinstein hired Ben Brafman, one of America's most celebrated criminal defense lawyers to represent him in New York last November, just days after New York police confirmed they were gathering evidence for a possible arrest warrant in another rape allegation.

Brafman's past clients include former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who ultimately escaped criminal prosecution by Vance for alleged sexual assault in 2011.

Around 100 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct since a New York Times expose was published last October, with allegations ranging from harassment to rape. Weinstein denies any non-consensual relations.