Ashley Judd, Reese Witherspoon, and Julianne Moore have thanked the Governor of New York for ordering a review of prosecutors' conduct regarding a failed 2015 sexual assault case against Harvey Weinstein.
Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez filed a New York police report in March, 2015, accusing the movie mogul of groping her, and she even took part in a sting operation, during which she allegedly got Weinstein on tape apologising for touching her inappropriately.
However, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. decided it wasn't enough and declined to pursue criminal charges against the producer.
The case hit headlines again last week (ends18Mar18) after a New York Magazine report into the investigation suggested officials in Vance Jr.'s sex crimes unit may have been improperly influenced by Weinstein's people to drop the charges, going as far as to allegedly intimidate Gutierrez - claims authorities have firmly denied.
Organisers behind the Time's Up campaign against sexual misconduct seized the opportunity to pressure Governor Andrew Cuomo to take action, claiming the prosecution of the three-year-old incident could have saved other women from suffering the same fate.
"There will only be real consequences for abusive behavior when our public officials, sworn to uphold the law, care as much about the rights of the victim as concerns for the accused," they declared in a statement on Monday (19Mar18).
Stars including Judd, Witherspoon, Moore, Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Kerry Washington, Alyssa Milano, Felicity Huffman, and Patricia Arquette also shared the Time's Up statement on their social media pages, and hours later, Governor Cuomo announced he had ordered the state attorney general to review the way prosecutors had handled the 2015 police complaint.
"It is critical not only that these cases are given the utmost attention but also that there is public confidence in the handling of these cases," he said, referring to the ongoing investigations into other sex assault claims made against Weinstein since he was first outed as an alleged sexual predator in a New York Times expose in October (17).
Many of the actresses and activists welcomed the news on Twitter, with Witherspoon posting, "@NYGovCuomo we applaud you for your swift response in calling for an investigation of DA Vance," while alleged Weinstein victim Judd shared a similar message, writing, "Thank you @NYGovCuomo. We applaud you for your swift response to the call for action. #TIMESUP!"
The developments emerged as bosses at the producer's former firm, The Weinstein Co., filed for bankruptcy and released any sexual misconduct accusers or witnesses from any non-disclosure agreements they had signed, preventing them from speaking out.
Weinstein, who was fired as co-chairman of the company in October, continues to deny all allegations of non-consensual sex.