Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, model at the Center of Harvey Weinstein NYPD Sting Operation, testifies in court

A model whose police report prompted sex-crimes prosecutors to investigate Harvey Weinstein in 2015 — two years before his colossal demise in 2017 — testified Tuesday in Weinstein’s rape trial in criminal court in downtown Los Angeles.

Ambra Battilana Gutierrez — who is an uncharged witness at Weinstein’s current trial — was at the center of an NYPD stabbing operation in 2015. She had colluded with police to wear a wire and pick up Weinstein after she claimed he fondled her breasts and put his hand under her skirt during a casting meeting. Gutierrez’s involvement in the police led to Weinstein being investigated, but former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance chose not to pursue the case, and Weinstein was never charged. After that first clash with authorities, Weinstein vied for power as one of Hollywood’s most influential producers for more than two years, until further allegations against him sparked the #MeToo movement. Gutierrez’s audio recording became compelling evidence when it was later published in Ronan Farrow’s Weinstein exposé in The New Yorker in October 2017.

The model has become one of the most prominent accusers linked to Weinstein’s fall, having spoken out about her allegations many times in recent years. When her story broke in 2015 and Weinstein was arrested, she received a lot of tabloid attention. She has since said in interviews that she believes Weinstein spread negative stories about her and that many forces helped enable and cover up Weinstein. (In this LA case, she is identified as “Ambra B.” to protect her identity, but given her past public appearances, diversity uses her full name.)

On Tuesday, Gutierrez was subpoenaed by the prosecutor’s office as a witness to “past bad acts” — in other words, the prosecutor’s office is presenting its report to the jury to determine a pattern of Weinstein’s behavior, but no charges against Weinstein see themselves at trial with their allegations confronted. During testimony, the jury was shown extensive surveillance video of Gutierrez with Weinstein during the alleged incidents and listened to audio recordings secretly recorded by Gutierrez in cooperation with NYPD.

Gutierrez arrived in New York City from her native Italy and met Weinstein briefly at a party she attended with her modeling agency at Radio City Music Hall on March 26, 2015. When Weinstein introduced himself to her, Gutierrez didn’t know who he was. She told jurors Weinstein paid close attention to her and said she looked like Mila Kunis. She introduced Weinstein to her agent and the next day her agent had booked a casting meeting with Weinstein.

The next day, March 27, 2015, Gutierrez went to the casting meeting at Weinstein’s Tribeca offices in downtown Manhattan. An assistant took her to an office where she was alone with Weinstein, and sitting next to him on a couch, she showed him her model portfolio, which contained lingerie and bikini photos. Weinstein looked at the photos and asked if her breasts were real. “It was weird. Nobody ever asked,” Gutierrez told the judges, comparing her meeting with Weinstein to typical casting meetings. She said Weinstein asked, “Are you sure?” and then grabbed her breasts.

“In the beginning, I just stand still,” Gutierrez said. “I was shocked.”

Gutierrez said Weinstein then asked her for a kiss and she “withdrew.” He put his hand on her leg, she recalled, and “he tried” to reach under her skirt.

“I said, ‘Sorry, I don’t do these things with people I don’t know,’ and he pushed back,” Gutierrez told the jury. She explained that he tried asking for a kiss several times, but when he realized she was refusing, he moved further away from her on the couch.

After the incident, Gutierrez “shook” and felt like he was “about to faint.” Weinstein left the meeting and one of his assistants told her that Weinstein wanted to invite her to a Broadway play he was producing, Finding Neverland, which was playing at the theater that night. Gutierrez didn’t tell anyone in Weinstein’s office what had just happened, explaining, “I felt like if he did that in his office, when people were outside, I didn’t feel safe there… I felt like I was going to the police.” to have to .”

Gutierrez immediately went to her agency to tell her agents what happened and said she wanted to go to the police station. She said her agent tried to prevent her from going to the police about Weinstein’s power in the industry, but she went anyway. “I couldn’t understand it. I felt like something bad happened and when something bad happened you go to the police,” she said in court.

Accompanied by her agent, she went to the police station and reported the finger-picking incident the same night it allegedly happened. The first station sent her to the SVU, where she spoke to the authorities. (In court Tuesday, a detective who was at the police station the night Gutierrez reported the incident in 2015 testified, telling the jury he remembered being “shaken” and “cried.” while mascara ran down her face and “thought she might throw up.”)

While Gutierrez was at the police station, Weinstein emailed her and asked her to meet him at the Broadway show his assistant invited her to earlier that day. Police instructed Gutierrez to contact Weinstein so they could record the call, and she spoke to Weinstein while police instructed her on how to speak to him. In court, jurors listened to the recording of that call, in which Weinstein said, “I felt bad…I don’t want to be aggressive with you…I like you.” On that call, police had instructed Gutierrez to correct his earlier comment about the bringing up faking her breasts, and when she did, Weinstein said “they feel nice,” but “I can tell” if they’re fake. Weinstein once called her “darling,” “sweetheart,” and “baby,” and said, “I’m instantly attracted to you.” In the context of possible acting roles, Weinstein offered to be a “mentor,” whom he described as an “older man who teaches younger women”.

On police orders, Gutierrez planned to meet with Weinstein the next day. “The police agent told me what to ask,” she told the jury. With his assistant on the line, during another call the next morning, Weinstein reserved tickets to Finding Neverland and arranged for his driver to pick Gutierrez up at her apartment and take her to the theater; After that, he would have his driver take her to the Tribeca Grand Hotel, where he would meet her for a drink.

Gutierrez went to the Tribeca Grand with a police wire to pick up Weinstein. This recording was also played to the jury in court on Tuesday.

Gutierrez was having coffee with Weinstein downstairs at the hotel. During that meeting, he said, “If you want to spend time with me, I’ll mentor you.” At another point, he complimented her, “You’re more beautiful than Adriana Lima…you’re amazing.” Abruptly, he is heard saying: “I’m going upstairs to my room. Let’s go.”

Weinstein told Gutierrez that he would shower in the room. When she expressed her discomfort at entering the room and being placed in a situation where anything could be sexual, he said, “We’re not going to do that … we’re going to do other things, but not that.” He mentioned a massage and Gutierrez said, “No, I don’t want to.” Weinstein replied, “Okay, we’ll see.” On the recording, he can be heard saying, “Don’t be shy” and “Don’t worry. I’m not pushy.”

Although undercover cops surrounded Gutierrez to leave Weinstein, she told him she left her jacket down in the lobby. He insisted on going downstairs with her. “He always followed,” Gutierrez said in the stands. To get involved, one of the undercover cops posed as a TMZ gossip reporter and began questioning Weinstein, who became angry. When that plan didn’t work, Gutierrez continued walking through the hotel with Weinstein while he ushered her upstairs to a room. “I was just trying to go with the flow,” Gutierrez said. “I knew the police were around me.”

Part of the recorded conversation between Gutierrez and Weinstein took place in an elevator full of people. Weinstein urged Gutierrez not to embarrass him in front of others. “You have to come over here now,” Weinstein demanded on the tape. She said, “I don’t want to be touched … I want to go downstairs.”

“Honey, don’t argue with me in the hallway,” Weinstein said. Gutierrez asked, “Why did you touch my chest yesterday?” Weinstein then said, “Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes.” At another point, he told her, “If you do this now, never call me again” and “You will miss great opportunities.”

“I just wanted to get out of there,” Gutierrez told the judges. She had noticed that no policeman had followed her to the floor Weinstein was taking her to, and he insisted that she go into the room with him. “I really didn’t want to go into the room,” Gutierrez said, but she didn’t know if she needed to stay to gather more information for the NYPD. “At that point I wanted to leave. I felt alone,” she said. “I did not like it. I didn’t want him to put me in a room where I was alone with him.” She left to go to the elevator and Weinstein followed her again, insisting they get drinks downstairs at the hotel bar, although she had told him several times that she does not drink alcohol. The police had previously instructed her to go to the restroom if she was unwell, so she went to the downstairs hotel restroom where a police agent was waiting for her and she exited the hotel safely.

According to Gutierrez and the jury, who listened to the recordings and observed hotel surveillance, Weinstein’s defense attorney, Alan Jackson, briefly questioned Gutierrez and asked very few questions.

“The underlying incident that this is about is that Mr. Weinstein once touched your chest – for a second?” asked Jackson Gutiérrez.

“I don’t know if it was a second,” she said. “It felt a lot longer. It felt like an eternity.”

Jackson told Gutierrez that in previous interviews with detectives from the DA’s office, she said it was “maybe a second.” Weinstein’s attorney analyzed more of her own statements, continued to view transcripts of Gutierrez’s previous interviews with authorities, and elaborated on her exact words. In a police interview, Gutierrez had said Weinstein touched her “knee,” but Jackson pointed out that during her testimony in court, she told the jury Weinstein touched her “thigh.”

Gutierrez fired back at Jackson: “My knee is part of my leg… what’s the difference?”

https://variety.com/2022/film/news/ambra-battilana-gutierrez-harvey-weinstein-testimony-audio-recording-1235426895/ Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, model at the Center of Harvey Weinstein NYPD Sting Operation, testifies in court

Charles Jones

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