Thu | May 23, 2019

Los Angeles, NYC, London chase growing mass of sex cases

Published:Monday | December 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Police in London, Los Angeles, and New York are working to untangle an ever-growing mass of sexual assault and harassment complaints against powerful men, creating challenges even for big cities used to handling celebrities.

Most of the cases stem from claims against media mogul Harvey Weinstein, but authorities say that they have also taken complaints made against other men in power.

"It's an international phenomenon," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said when asked about investigations into Weinstein. "These ladies were sexually assaulted, harassed, and they acquired psychological damage, so we have to move very cautiously with anyone who comes in and that's what we're doing."

Unlike cases involving everyday people, pressure from the media and high-powered attorneys create added problems for investigators, and many of the recent allegations date back years, sometimes passing the statute of limitations.

Los Angeles police say they have 27 open investigations into entertainment figures, including actor Ed Westwick and agent Tyler Grasham, in addition to Weinstein. The LAPD has also taken more than 30 other reports of sexual misconduct that occurred in other parts of the US and overseas and referred those cases to other law enforcement agencies.




Separately, Beverly Hills police say that its department alone is investigating a dozen allegations of sexual assault involving figures in the entertainment industry.

London police say they are investigating sexual assault allegations from nine people.

In New York, detectives have received more than a dozen complaints from people who reported being abused by entertainment industry figures around the country, and they say that most of those cases involve Weinstein. At least 75 have made allegations in the media against him that range from rape to inappropriate comments, but not all of the women have gone to the police.

Police have not said exactly how many active cases they have except for one, an allegation by actress Paz de la Huerta that Weinstein raped her in her New York City apartment in 2010. Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce has said that the agency had a credible case against Weinstein and was gathering evidence to refer to the Manhattan district attorney's office for possible charges.

The methods by which the claims are investigated remain the same whether someone is famous or not detectives are seeking business records, phone records, putting together timelines and tracking the movements of both people. Each case has to be separately investigated in each local jurisdiction and built from the ground up.

But the older the allegation, the more difficult the investigation. And unlike cases involving everyday people, pressure from the media, leaks, and high-powered attorneys create added problems for investigators.

Plus, police may believe they have enough evidence to arrest someone, but it's up to the local district attorney offices to decide whether to prosecute.

In New York, Manhattan prosecutors haven't yet decided whether to proceed with de la Huerta's claims after she called the hotline on October 25 to report the assaults. The delay has prompted the actress's attorney to publicly put the pressure on.

"We threw down the gauntlet on behalf of our client," attorney Carrie Goldberg said in a statement, "and urged DA NY to convene a grand jury by the end of next week (the week of December 3) or expect the protests to begin."