The Vindication of Ambra Gutierrez
Ambra Battilana Gutierrez said she felt “pure happiness” when movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of a criminal sexual act and third-degree rape on February 24.
“Happiness. Pure happiness. It was the verdict that I was really wishing for,” Gutierrez told CourtTV outside the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan moments after the verdict was announced.
The Filipina-Italian model, who was 22 at that time said Weinstein assaulted her in his Tribeca office at a business meeting in March 2015. She moved to the United States a month earlier to pursue her modeling career.
Gutierrez said that she went straight to the police an hour after the meeting to speak about what happened. She collaborated with the officials and gathered proof on record. The police asked her to wear a wire when she met with Weinstein again.
“I needed to be here to at least get a positive memory of this situation because of course, I had a bad experience in 2015 and I don’t want anybody to have the same,” she said. “Everything I have done, I did it for other women. Right now, I know that I won so this is enough for me.”
The jury of seven men and five women found the 67-year-old Hollywood producer guilty of criminal sexual acts in the first degree and rape in the third degree and not guilty of first-degree rape and predatory sexual assault.
With the two convictions, Weinstein faces up to 25 years in prison.
The story didn’t break until 2017 and dozens of women have come forward with allegations against the producer. With the initial media reports, Weinstein’s supporters tried to discredit the model and accused her of lying.
Gutierrez received negative press, particularly from American tabloids. Her past in Italy was scrutinized, including her involvement in the scandal that eventually brought down former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
“Everything was manipulated…having everyone think that I was a liar and blackmailer without knowing there was those proof of recordings that I got with the police,” she expressed.
While she went into depression following this chapter in her life, Gutierrez held on because she knew the truth and it was her best weapon when she decided to take her life back. She had these audio recordings to prove that she was telling the truth.
“My life was destroyed, my reputation as destroyed. I had to leave New York and I moved to another country,” Gutierrez added. “My name was ruined and I couldn’t really pursue my dreams. I lost everything for a while, and I got it back.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance praised the women who testified against Weinstein saying that this “new landscape for sexual violence survivors” and that what they did has changed the course of history.
“We all owe an immense debt to you, who had the courage beyond measure to speak your story to the world, to the courtroom, at great personal risk, and in great personal pain,” Vance said. “Weinstein is a vicious, serial sexual predator who used his power to threaten, rape, assault, trick, humiliate, and silence his victims.”
Earlier this month, Vance faced calls to resign over his handling of the sexual abuse case in 2015 involving Weinstein and Gutierrez. The producer reportedly admitted to groping Gutierrez in the audio recording, which was part of a New York Police Department sting operation.
The Manhattan DA declined then to charge Weinstein despite the evidence that Gutierrez provided.
The New York City Council’s Women Caucus, which includes all 12 women of the city council, called for Vance’s resignation for “failing to protect and fight for survivors against rich, white, and powerful men who committed countless sexual assaults.”