Police in the US and Britain have opened criminal investigations into allegations of sexual assault against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Media reports say the New York Police Department is looking into allegations of an incident that took place in 2004. Meanwhile, in Britain, police are investigating a complaint relating to an incident that took place in the 1980s.
The NYPD said in a statement on Friday that it was “conducting a review to determine if there are any additional complaints relating to the Harvey Weinstein matter”.
The review was based on “information referenced in published news reports”, it added.
“No filed complaints have been identified as of this time and as always, the NYPD encourages anyone who may have information pertaining to this matter to call.”
Meanwhile, British police in Merseyside said a “report was received … of an alleged sexual assault in the London area in the 1980s. The report has been referred to the Metropolitan Police.”
Scotland Yard confirmed the report had been received.
“The Met have been passed an allegation of sexual assault by Merseyside Police today,” Scotland Yard said. “The allegation will be assessed by officers from Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command.”
Weinstein is under fire folllowing a series of devastating allegations published in The New York Times and The New Yorker detailing sexual harassment assault stretching back decades.
The report in The New Yorker included accounts from three women who claim they were forced into sex with Weinstein, including Italian actress Asia Argento, former actress Lucia Evans and a third, unnamed, woman. Evans alleged the studio chief forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004.
“I tried to get away but maybe I didn’t try hard enough,” Evans told journalist Ronan Farrow. “I didn’t want to kick him or fight him. He’s a big guy. He overpowered me.”
The New Yorker report followed another in The New York Times detailing a pattern of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, by the mogul. A number of high-profile actresses – Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and others – have since come forward with separate accounts of falling prey to Weinstein’s harassment.
Manhattan’s district attorney’s office launched an investigation in 2015 after model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez said she was invited to meet Weinstein at his office but left when he “lunged at her, groping her breasts”.
She later went to a New York police station to report the assault and, after speaking to investigators from the special victim’s division, met Weinstein with a police wire tap to record the second interaction.
Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance jnr decided at the time there was insufficient evidence to lay charges, but that move has been criticised by the NYPD since news of it became public.
Weinstein has been sacked by the company that bears his name, and his wife confirmed the couple have separated.
He has also been suspended from the British film industry body BAFTA and his name is being scrubbed from his company’s television and film projects.
Weinstein has denied allegations of non-consensual sex.
“Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein [and] there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances,” a statement released on his behalf said.
“Mr Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.”