Ronan Farrow Weighs In on Whether Harvey Weinstein Could Avoid Prosecution
The journalist who ignited a cultural movement with his Weinstein exposé spoke to THR about the fallen producer's ongoing investigation after James Toback's legal victory.
Ronan Farrow is holding out hope. Six months after exposing Harvey Weinstein in his first bombshell New Yorker report, the journalist remains optimistic that law enforcement officials are continuing to seek justice for the women who have accused the Hollywood exec of sexual misconduct.
Farrow opened up about Weinstein's ongoing investigation after the Los Angeles District Attorney's office announced Monday that it had declined to prosecute James Toback. The Oscar-nominated writer and director was accused of sexual misconduct by more than 300 women in the wake of Weinstein and the #MeToo movement last fall, and five cases were brought against him in L.A. In one case, the victim failed to appear for an interview, but could still come forward in the future. The rest were beyond the statute of limitations, as The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday.
"I haven't specifically reported on the Toback allegations, so I want to be careful about what I say here," Farrow told THR at the Point Foundation’s annual gala in New York City on Monday. "But I would say that I have been in touch with multiple jurisdictions that are looking at the Weinstein case."
Weinstein has had police reports filed against him in New York, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and London. Through his reps, he has vehemently denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex. Although Weinstein has yet to be criminally charged, Farrow says that the time it takes doesn't matter — so long as the disgraced producer's accusers are vindicated.
"I know that there are hard-working law enforcement officials that are very passionate about making sure that they do right by justice this time around," said Farrow. "I think it's important to be diligent. I think that these continue to be tough cases that require precise bodies of evidence."
He added: "They also require tremendous sacrifice from the women at the heart of these cases. Just as speaking out in a public article is a huge personal step and exacts a huge cost for any source, deciding to be at the heart of a criminal justice case — maybe for years to come — is a life-changing decision. And I think it's complicated for every woman who's being approached by law enforcement officials to do that."
Still, Farrow suggested that Weinstein, like Toback, could potentially avoid being prosecuted. "It's worth considering the possibility that people who are powerful and still wield a lot of influence exert some of that influence over law enforcement and different jurisdiction," the writer said. "I think it's absolutely correct that questions of that nature are being posed in New York."
Last fall, the New York Police Department faced backlash after it was revealed they failed to prosecute Weinstein after Italian model Ambra Battilana accused him of groping her during a business meeting in 2015. Even though the NYPD worked with Battilana to get Weinstein to acknowledge the incident in a recording, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., declined to press charges. According to The New York Times, Weinstein made a sizable payment to Battilana.
Whether or not Weinstein suffers any repercussions for the myriad claims made against him since October, Farrow "[hopes] law enforcement officials look at the blowback from all of the times that he was almost prosecuted, almost charged even, and do better in the future."
Although Farrow's reporting on the Weinstein scandal ultimately launched the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, inspiring change on a global scale, the Yale Law School graduate understands that more work still needs to be done.
"As much as we see more accountability now in the entertainment industry, in industry after industry, there are still a million Harvey Weinstein stories," he said. "From the assembly line to the boardroom, women — and also men — face down predators who wield their power in that world to silence opposition. So we need to continue to take a hard look at the stories that aren't being told."
Farrow praised his friend Rose McGowan, who accused Weinstein of raping her in 1997, for being one of the first public figures to set fire to the #MeToo movement. During a 90-minute sit-down at Manhattan's 92Y in February, the pair engaged in an emotional discussion about the national reckoning over sexual harassment in front of a packed crowd.
It was there that McGowan said she was assaulted by a "prominent" man in Hollywood long before Weinstein when she was 15; but she and Farrow opted against revealing the man's identity. However, Farrow believes McGowan has made an indelible impact with the information she has shared so far.
"Rose McGowan was very early on someone who was making noise about this and trying to get reporters on the case," he told THR. "And for that, I think she deserves considerable credit."
In addition to propelling the country's dialogue about sexual assault, Farrow has spent much of his career advocating for the LGBTQ community through journalism. At Monday night's event, he received the Point Foundation's Courage Award for his efforts.
"Being a part of the LGBT community — which recognized that reporting I was doing early on and elevated it, and has been such a stalwart source of support through the sexual assault reporting I did involving survivors who felt equally invisible — that has been an incredible source of strength for me," Farrow said in his acceptance speech. "LGBT people are some of the bravest and most potent change agents and leaders I have encountered, and the most forceful defenders of the vulnerable and voiceless, because they know what it’s like to be there."