Time's Up is proving once again that its fight to end sexual misconduct and pay inequality goes beyond the red carpet. On Sunday, the powerful organisation penned an open letter in The Cut demanding that New York governor Andrew Cuomo investigate both the district attorney's office and New York County district attorney Cyrus Vance for failing to prosecute Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein — who has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women — in a sexual assault case from 2015.
The letter, promoted on Twitter by Ashley Judd, one of the Time's Up movement and legal defence fund founders, was in direct response to a damning story in New York Magazine which detailed how Vance and the district attorney's office actively sought to discredit model Ambra Battilana by means of intimidation after she filed a sexual assault report against Weinstein. In response, a former sergeant connected to the case told NY Mag that the the NYPD's Special Victims Division hid Battilana in a hotel under a false name because they felt the need to protect her from both Weinstein and Vance's office. Unfortunately, their efforts to keep Battilana safe fell short after the DA's sex crimes unit spoke to her without their consent. During this conversation, the unit allegedly tried to smear Battilana's character and, ultimately, frame her as an "unreliable witness."
"Reports that District Attorney Cyrus Vance could have been improperly influenced by Mr. Weinstein and/or his representatives, and that senior officials within the DA’s office may have sought to intimidate Battilana are particularly disturbing and merit investigation," the open letter read. "Similarly, reports that the New York Police Department chose to isolate Battilana from Vance’s staff because they feared his office was actively working to discredit her story demand immediate scrutiny."
Time's Up also demanded that the "independent investigation" fully review any "correspondence" between Weinstein's team and the DA's office that may have influenced the outcome of the case.
Additionally, the initiative encouraged Governor Cuomo to examine how the DA interacts with the NYPD's Special Victims Unit.
"We are concerned that what appears to be the negative relationship between the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Special Victims Unit of the NYPD makes it even less likely that victims who have been assaulted by rich or powerful men will be willing to come forward and that their assailants will be prosecuted and convicted," the letter read.
The letter concluded with a call to action for Cuomo, and all other elected officials, to protect their constituents by taking sexual assault cases seriously. The Time's Up movement is holding our elected officials accountable for their inaction and is demanding that the organisations and institutions set up to protect survivors fulfil their duties and eliminate anyone corrupting the system.
This is a significant move for the initiative, which has been criticised in the past for being all show and no action. It appears the actresses behind Time's Up are making good on their promise to fight for every woman by calling out injustice and corruption on both the national and local levels.