The New York Police Department is ready to arrest former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, two NYPD officials told The Wall Street Journal, as federal prosecutors have opened a probe into some of the sexual assault allegations against him.
The NYPD is reportedly just waiting for approval from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose office has been criticized for not previously charging Weinstein after allegations were brought against him in 2015.
The U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York is probing whether Weinstein got women to cross state lines for the purpose of committing a sex crime, an offense that could lead to federal charges.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said he is meeting with federal prosecutors to try to “dissuade them from proceeding,” the Journal reported.
“Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that he has never engaged in nonconsensual sexual acts,” Brafman said.
Federal prosecutors have also investigated possible fraud related to financial transactions carried out by Weinstein.
Although individual sexual assault allegations are usually handled by local authorities, federal prosecutors have in recent months expanded their probe to include possible sex crimes, according to the Journal.
Sex crimes can be tough for both local and federal prosecutors to prove because recollection and credibility can be affected by a victim’s trauma.
However, federal rules of evidence are more wide-ranging, giving federal prosecutors the ability to use proof of other sexual crimes to show a defendant’s inclination to commit such a crime.