The police in London and New York said Thursday that they were looking into complaints involving the disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, the latest turn in a scandal that has consumed Hollywood over allegations of sexual abuse and harassment.
The new reports are preliminary, but the fact that the police are reviewing them points to the breadth of the legal challenges that Mr. Weinstein could face. Over the past week, investigations by The New York Times and The New Yorker revealed allegations that he had sexually harassed or abused numerous current or former employees and other women over several decades. Mr. Weinstein was fired by the production company he co-founded, the Weinstein Company, on Sunday.
On Thursday, London’s Metropolitan Police Service confirmed that it had received a referral from the police in Merseyside, England, about an allegation of sexual assault.
“The Met has been passed an allegation of sexual abuse by Merseyside police on Wednesday,” the London police said about the Weinstein case. “The allegation will be assessed by officers from the child abuse and sexual offenses command.”
The Merseyside Police, which serves Liverpool, said in a statement that it had received the report “of an alleged sexual assault in the London area in the 1980s” on Wednesday morning and referred it to the London police.
Neither police statement named Mr. Weinstein, in line with British protocol. The British press, including the BBC, reported that he was the subject of the inquiry.
In New York, the police are looking to interview the actress Lucia Evans, who told The New Yorker that Mr. Weinstein had sexually assaulted her in the offices of Miramax (now the Weinstein Company) in TriBeCa in 2004. There is no statute of limitations for prosecution because she alleged that Mr. Weinstein had forced her to perform oral sex on him, officials said.
After The New Yorker’s investigation was published, detectives searched for any report by Ms. Evans from the time but found none, according to Robert K. Boyce, the chief of detectives for the New York Police Department.
“But that’s not unusual,” he said in an interview. “People feel shame, and they don’t want to come forward.”
He added: “We reached out to her, and we’ll see where that case goes. The statute of limitations does not expire. That’s first-degree criminal sex act; it never expires. Not to do that would be not doing my job. So we are going to speak to her.”
The detectives believe that Ms. Evans might be overseas. Chief Boyce said he considered the case “an active investigation, as far as me investigating Lucia Evans,” but added that it was not known whether she would cooperate.
Chief Boyce also said that detectives, out of due diligence, were searching databases to see if there were other complaints made about Mr. Weinstein.
Another New York case involving Mr. Weinstein involves an Italian model, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. She told the police that in March 2015, Mr. Weinstein had groped her in his TriBeCa office, grabbing her breasts and putting his hand up her skirt.
Detectives from the special victims unit set up a meeting with Mr. Weinstein the next day at a hotel bar in TriBeCa. In an audio recording published by The New Yorker this week, Mr. Weinstein apologized when Ms. Battilana asked him why he had groped her breasts.
The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., has been under fire for his office’s decision not to prosecute that case. “It’s obviously sickening,” he said on Wednesday. “But at the end of the day we operate in a courtroom of law, not the court of public opinion, and our sex crime prosecutors made a determination that this was not going to be a provable case.”
This week, Mr. Weinstein’s spokeswoman, Sallie Hofmeister, said: “Any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”
In another development related to the allegations against Mr. Weinstein, the Hachette Book Group announced Thursday that it was shutting down the Weinstein Company’s publishing imprint, Weinstein Books.
Books that are currently under contract will be published by the company’s Hachette Books imprint, and people working at Weinstein Books will join the Hachette imprint, according to Michael Pietsch, the chief executive of Hachette Book Group.
Source: New York Times