- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 11, 2017

The district attorney for Los Angeles County has created a specialized task force devoted specifically to investigating claims of sexual assault amid an onslaught of allegations involving disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood heavyweights.

“In response to the widespread allegations of sexual abuse in the entertainment industry, I have established a task force of specially trained deputy district attorneys who are ready to evaluate these cases if any are referred to my office for criminal prosecution,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said Thursday.

“I have assigned the group of veteran sex crimes prosecutors to work together to ensure a uniformed approach to the legal review and possible prosecution of any case that meets both the legal and factual standards for criminal prosecution,” she said in a statement.

The New York Times first reported on October 5 that Mr. Weinstein, the co-founder of the Weinstein Company and Miramax film studios, settled with at least eight women to resolve allegations of sexual misconduct dating back nearly three decades. The report prompted dozens of women to come forward with additional allegations involving Mr. Weinstein and opened the floodgates for similar claims concerning Hollywood’s rich and powerful.

The Los Angeles Police Department is currently investigating cases involving Mr. Weinstein, “Gossip Girl” actor Ed Westwick and film director James Toback, among others, LAPD Officer Drake Madison, a law enforcement spokesman, told The Los Angeles Daily News earlier this week.

“Every report that’s taken is given to a detective and every report is investigated,” Mr. Madison said Wednesday.

The district attorney’s task force is working with officers in both the LAPD and Beverly Hills Police Department, though its members “have not received any cases from law enforcement for possible criminal filing,” Ms. Lacey said Thursday.

The LAPD announced earlier this month that it was investigating claims of “lewd conduct” involving Mr. Weinstein that allegedly occurred in 2015. The New York Police Department has separately launched its own probe into allegations involving the film producer.

Mr. Westwick is accused of raping two women in 2014, and over 200 women have accused Mr. Toback of sexual misconduct. Along with Mr. Weinstein, they’ve denied wrongdoing.

As least 20 high-profile men have been accused of similar allegations in the month since the first claims were published involving Mr. Weinstein last month. Most recently, comedian Louis C.K. issued a statement Friday admitting to having masturbated in front of multiple women after The New York Times published a report a day earlier detailing their accounts.

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