New York Magazine

To Catch a Predator

The NYPD’s top sex-crimes investigator tried to bust Harvey Weinstein three years ago. Then the DA stepped in.
Deputy Chief Michael Osgood oversaw the investigation of Harvey Weinstein in 2015. The producer “should’ve been arrested,” fumes one officer.

EARLY IN the evening of March 27, 2015, a young Italian model named Ambra Battilana walked into the NYPD’s 9th Precinct house, a few blocks from Tompkins Square Park. She was so physically and emotionally distressed that the desk sergeant almost called an ambulance. When two patrol officers transported her to the 1st Precinct house, in Tribeca, she cried throughout the short drive. There, at 8:20 p.m., she made a formal complaint that she had been sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein.

By nine o’clock, the commander of the NYPD’s Special Victims Division, Michael Osgood, had been notified. Osgood understood immediately that the case had to be handled with extreme care. He and Lieutenant Austin Morange, head of the SVD’s Manhattan unit, mapped out a plan to keep the case under wraps, to prevent Weinstein from calling in his army of high-powered lawyers and publicists. Knowledge of the investigation, they decided, would be confined to a small circle of detectives and supervisors. Their reports, contrary to standard procedure, wouldn’t be loaded on the NYPD’s system, and Osgood orally informed his boss, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, rather than putting his briefing in writing.

Then Morange called Martha Bashford, head of the Sex Crimes Unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, to apprise her of the complaint. The call was made reluctantly, after much internal debate. Osgood’s team felt that ever since 2011, when District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. had been blasted in the press for dropping a sexual-assault case against IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the DA’s office had been gun-shy about taking on powerful defendants. While Osgood cannot talk about the case his team built against Weinstein, sources close to the investigation provided the first detailed account of its inner workings—and how the police became convinced that Vance’s office was systematically working to derail the investigation.

In the station house that evening, Battilana told an SVD detective that Weinstein had invited her to a meeting earlier that day, saying he might have work for her. As soon as they were alone in his office, he reached out, two-handed, and groped her breasts. She told him to stop, but he put a hand on her left thigh, moved it up under her skirt, and asked for a kiss. When she refused, he told her he was a very powerful man, boasting that he could make her $2 million a year. The meeting ended with Weinstein telling his receptionist to get Battilana a ticket to that night’s performance of Finding Neverland on Broadway.

Just then, as Battilana was providing her account to the SVD detective, she got an email from Weinstein. Why hadn’t she shown up at the theater, he wanted to know. Recognizing an opportunity for a “controlled call”—a police technique

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