NEW YORK – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed the state attorney general’s office to suspend its probe into whether the Manhattan district attorney mishandled 2015 allegations of sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Barbara Underwood confirmed Wednesday that the investigation was put on temporary hold this summer on the orders of the governor.
The spokeswoman, Amy Spitalnick, said the investigation into Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s handling of the Weinstein case was suspended to avoid interfering with Vance’s ongoing prosecution of Weinstein in different cases.
“We remain committed to conducting a comprehensive, fair and independent review,” Spitalnick said.
The attorney general’s office said the suspension of the investigation into Vance’s office would have no effect on the attorney general’s separate civil-rights lawsuit against Weinstein stemming from sexual misconduct allegations by employees of the movie producer’s company.
In March, Cuomo ordered then-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate Vance’s decision not to prosecute Weinstein on charges that he groped an Italian model in 2015.
Vance came under sharp criticism for the decision at the time, and the pressure on him only grew after October 2017 when nearly 100 other women starting coming forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault, coercion or rape dating back decades.
The Weinstein allegations helped create the #MeToo movement to call out sexual abuse, and some movement leaders openly scorned Vance for the 2015 decision.
Then Schneiderman resigned in May following reports that four women had accused him of sexual and physical abuse. He was replaced by Underwood.
Weinstein was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on rape charges later that month. Additional sexual-assault charges were brought against him in July, bringing the total to six felony charges and involving three accusers.
Cuomo’s office said the AG probe into Vance’s handling of the 2015 allegations was postponed for six months starting in June.
“Given the recent indictment and prosecution of Harvey Weinstein by the district attorney, the attorney general’s investigation has been postponed for six months,” Cuomo press secretary Dani Lever said.
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