Harvey Weinstein: Prosecutors defend decision not to charge him after 2015 undercover taping

Prosecutors have defended their decision not to bring charges against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein after he was accused by an Italian model of sexual assault in 2015.

The Manhattan district attorney's office highlighted failings in the NYPD sting operation in which the 22-year-old model, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, secretly taped a meeting with Weinstein.

Sections of the investigation's audio recording were released this week by The New Yorker as 65-year-old Weinstein became engulfed in a widening scandal that has seen his wife leave him and his own company fire him.

The district attorney's office said it decided there was insufficient evidence in the March 2015 recording to prove a crime had taken place.

On Thursday, the NYPD said it was reaching out to women who have come forward with accusations against Weinstein to see if any alleged crimes were committed in New York.

The hosts of the Oscars are due to meet to discuss potential action amid the Harvey Weinstein allegations. Credit: AP

Weinstein faces multiple accusations of sexual harassment, including from Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, and several claims of rape.

He has strongly denied the rape allegations and said many other accusations against him are inaccurate.

On Wednesday, Weinstein was filmed in public for the first time, getting into a car which was thought to be taking him to a rehab facility.

The disgraced producer said he was "not doing OK" but "we all make mistakes", as he left what is thought to be his daughter's house in Los Angeles.

Asked how he was, Weinstein said he was "trying my best... I'm not doing OK but I'm trying...

"I gotta get help. You know what, we all make mistakes ... A second chance, I hope."

The scandal has also seen Weinstein suspended from Bafta while the hosts of the Oscars announced they will hold talks to discuss their response to allegations the Academy condemned as "repugnant" and "abhorrent".

Harvey Weinstein's wife, British fashion designer Georgina Chapman, has left him. Credit: AP

Regarding the 2015 claim involving Ms Gutierrez, Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman-Agnifilo criticised the NYPD's March 2015 operation.

"Prosecutors ... were not afforded the opportunity before the meeting to counsel investigators on what was necessary to capture in order to prove a misdemeanour sex crime," she said in a statement.

"While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law."

She said prosecutors were left with "no choice but to conclude the criminal investigation without charges", adding: "If we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have.

"Mr Weinstein's pattern of mistreating women, as recounted in recent reports, is disgraceful and shocks the conscience."

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said his office was unable to bring charges against Harvey Weinstein. Credit: AP

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said Weinstein's comments were offensive but added: "At the end of the day, we operate in the courtroom of the law, not the courtroom of public opinion."

Weinstein issued an apology to the women he had worked with days before his firing but stopped short of directly addressing the allegations.

However, after the rape allegations emerged on Tuesday, his spokesperson issued a statement directly addressing them.

"Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein," Sallie Hofmeister said.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie have both accused Weinstein of sexual harassment. Credit: PA

She continued: "Mr Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.

"Mr Weinstein has begun counselling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path."

Weinstein was believed to be heading to Europe to undergo counselling, but appears to be remaining in the US.

According to TMZ, he flew by private jet from Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles to Arizona.