Mar 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Weinstein prosecutor Cy Vance: #MeToo changed how I see sexual assault cases

The 2017 #MeToo Movement changed Harvey Weinstein prosecutor Cyrus Vance's perspective on sexual assault cases, he told "Axios on HBO" in an interview which aired Sunday.

Why it matters: Vance originally declined to prosecute Weinstein in 2015 over sexual misconduct allegations. He's since faced calls to resign but says he has to "focus on the job" and not be distracted.

  • "We're gonna make decisions on every case. We're not gonna make the right decision in every case. That's — at the end of the day, humans are making these judgment calls," Vance noted.

What they're saying: Vance said his belated decision to prosecute Weinstein was due to an "evolution of my understanding of the dynamics of sexual assaults."

  • "I think in the aftermath of the #MeToo Movement in October 2017, society has evolved. And in terms of bringing cases, really those decisions are made on the facts and the law and not for any other reason. You have to do that in this job, or else you'd be zigzagging right and left every day because there's always pressure from somebody," Vance added.

Asked by "Axios on HBO" why he declined to prosecute in 2015 if he believes Weinstein's accusers, Vance said:

  • "It's hard to generalize so — in such a black and white way. I would describe it as an evolution. And we are all evolving. The police are constantly evolving and self-evaluating. So are we."
  • Vance believes his office bringing the case now is an "indication" that he will be more aggressive in prosecuting sexual cases going forward.
  • "It will affirm in my mind and confirm in the mind of the office that we'll, you know, that we'll take really, really tough cases if we believe in 'em," he said.

The big picture: A Manhattan jury found Weinstein guilty last week on two of five counts in his trial, including a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree.

  • Charges mounted against Weinstein were a major kick-starter for the global #MeToo movement.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 via 1-800-656-4673 or chat. Learn more at RAINN.org.

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