How a Filipina-Italian model taped Weinstein and got him to admit sexual misconduct

February 26, 2020 - 1:05 PM
4257
Model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez talks to the media following film producer Harvey Weinstein's guilty verdict in his sexual assault trial in New York, U.S. February 24, 2020. (Reuters/Jeenah Moon)

Before a New York court ruled that former movie producer Harvey Weinstein is guilty of sexual assault and rape on Monday, a Filipina-Italian model was key in Weinstein’s admission to one of his misconducts almost five years ago.

Sting operation vs Weinstein

In March 2015, Victoria’s Secret model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, one of the victims of Weinstein, came forward to the Tribeca, Lower Manhattan police to complain about being groped by the influential producer during a business meeting.

She was only 22 then, according to a report from The Cut.

The next day, under police orders, Gutierrez wore a wire and secretly captured Weinstein admitting that he touched her. The incident was caught in a nearly-two minute recording.

Gutierrez reportedly returned to confront Weinstein, a day after he touched his breast and the producer just replied: “Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in. I’m used to that. Come on. Please” and continued inviting the Filipina-Italian model to enter his hotel room while he showered.

ABC News noted that Weinstein did that despite Gutierrez’s protest until he eventually let the model leave.

“I won’t do it again… I will never do another thing to you. Five minutes. Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes,” Weinstein said.

Gutierrez said that the Special Victims Unit of the New York Police District was “really on her side.”

“After I wore a wire, they were saying, ‘Ambra, you did it. You put him in jail. He’s going to go to jail.’ That night I went home — and, of course, I was escorted and everything because I was paranoid and all — but I was kind of feeling, ‘Okay, it’s done,’” she recalled.

However, despite having strong evidence, the former head of the Sex Crimes Unit, Martha Bashford, who resigned earlier this month allegedly grilled her like a criminal, asking if she worked as a prostitute or asked for favors, among others.

As soon as her accusations went public, Gutierrez said the public was at first on her side and was later on against her because of the smear campaign, supposedly funded by the powerful Hollywood executive.

Justice for other girls

For this and out of fear for her family’s safety, Gutierrez was prompted to sign a non-disclosure agreement and accepted $1 million in cash from Weinstein’s team in exchange for her silence.

No charges were then made against the producer.

Gutierrez said that, as part of the detail, she was asked to delete the recording and disclose the passwords of her gadgets and email account. Before her account was compromised, however, she managed to send copies to five different emails, including an old account.

In 2017, however, Gutierrez could no longer stand silence and broke her the agreement by playing the recording for investigative reporter of The New Yorker, Ronan Farrow, in the seeking justice for other victims.

“I had to get those out. It’s like, that’s my life; that was the key to getting my life back. Being believed, getting my name back to who I was or I am right now. That I wasn’t lying. I was right. I told the truth,” the model said.

Farrow wrote about Gutierrez’s account on The New Yorker, along with dozen other confessions in a report titled “Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s accusers tell their stories.”

Farrow’s NBC producer Rich McHugh predicted the tape would be “the beginning of the end” for Weinstein.

Last month, Farrow also released an excerpt of the supposed audio recording taken during the sing operation on his podcast “Catch and Kill.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“If you want to spend time with me I will mentor you. I’ll teach you. Whatever. But you have to, you know, relax with me, have fun, enjoy,” a man believed to be Weinstein was heard as saying.

“What?” Gutierrez replied.

“Massage, something fun,” the man replied.

“No. I’m shy,” the model said.

“I know, but a massage. Something nice… If you don’t trust me then we have no reason to do anything and you will lose big opportunities,” the man also said.

Gutierrez’s recording was recently reviewed by various US-based publications days ahead of the controversial trial. Gutierrez is considered to be among the first female victims of Weinstein who sought police’s help.

Asked if she consulted her family before she came forward, Gutierrez told The STAR in 2018 that she “did it on her own.”

Gutierrez’s mother is Filipina who hails from Calamba, Laguna while her father is Italian.

“Being from another country — I’m Italian — made me less understanding of his level of power. Also, I really don’t like to be touched, and knowing that someone invaded my space in that way, it was too much for me. And I just believed in the system,” she said in an interview with The Cut.

The model said she did everything but the judicial system didn’t stop Weinstein.

Gutierrez was not called to witness during the recent Weinstein trial but she was relieved of the guilty verdict.

“Let’s say that I’m happy to know that I contributed to this,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.

Sixty-seven-year-old Weinstein was found guilty of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013.

This ruling was considered a victory to the #MeToo movement that inspired women to publicly accuse powerful men of misconduct.

READ: Weinstein found guilty of sexual assault, rape, in victory for #MeToo movement

Actress Alyssa Milano was among the celebrities who spoke about the sexual harassment issue in Hollywood and she urged victims to use the hashtag #MeToo to share their rape, sexual assault and harassment stories across social media.

This campaign originated from writer and activist Tarana Burke in 2006 who used the same phrase to raise awareness on sexual harassment.

The Weinstein effect and #MeToo movement also reached the Philippines with several individuals coming forward online to share their harassment experiences with artists and band members.

RELATED: ‘Weinstein effect’ reaches Philippines, artists accused of sexual misconduct

For Gutierrez, however, her ordeal was never a “#Metoo.”

“I was never a #MeToo, I was a ‘fight back,” she was quoted by the New York Daily as saying in September 2018.