Weinstein accusers endorse Manhattan DA candidate Lucy Lang

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Jessica Mann arrives at Harvey Weinstein's trial on charges of rape and sexual assault, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in New York. A group of women, including Mann, who said they were victimized by Weinstein, endorsed former prosecutor Lucy Lang on Tuesday, Nov. 17 to replace the Manhattan district attorney who put the movie mogul behind bars. Mann's days of grueling testimony helped lead to Weinstein's conviction. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK – A group of women who say they were victimized by Harvey Weinstein, including one who testified at his trial, have endorsed former prosecutor Lucy Lang to replace the Manhattan district attorney who put the movie mogul behind bars.

The women announcing support for Lang's candidacy Tuesday include actors Rosanna Arquette, Louise Godbold, Jasmine Lobe, Sarah Ann Masse, Katherine Kendall, Caitlin Dulany and Jessica Mann, whose days of grueling testimony helped lead to Weinstein's conviction.

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Lang, one of several women campaigning to become Manhattan’s first female state prosecutor, called their endorsement an “incredible honor."

“It’s a privilege to stand beside them in calling for a system that better integrates their experiences and needs into a plan for the future," she said.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who oversaw Weinstein's prosecution, has not said whether he’ll seek a fourth term. The primary election is in June, but he hasn't been raising money for a campaign, leading to speculation he will leave office when his term expires.

Vance's ultimately successful handling of the Weinstein case hasn't silenced criticism for his past reluctance to prosecute similar accusations against affluent and prominent men.

His office initially declined to prosecute Weinstein after a model accused him of groping her in 2015, citing a lack of proof. Weinstein was s entenced to 23 years in prison earlier this year after he was convicted of rape and sexual abuse.

Vance also declined to prosecute former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn after a hotel maid accused him of attempted rape. Vance's office was also criticized for not initially advocating for Jeffrey Epstein to be classified as a top-level sex offender.

Vance has defended his handling of sex crimes cases, saying he follows the law, which sometimes doesn’t mesh with the court of public opinion. He has said background and wealth are not factors when prosecutors decide whether to charge individuals.

Lang is among a host of candidates who have announced they are running for Manhattan district attorney.

Others include Alvin Bragg, Tali Farhadian Weinstein, Liz Crotty, Diana Florence, and Tahanie Aboushie, Janos Marton, Dan Quart, and Eliza Orlins.

Lang was an assistant district attorney in Manhattan for 12 years before leaving in 2018 to become director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College.

As part of a plan to prioritize getting justice for sex crimes victims, Lang said she wants “consent” to be defined for the first time in New York State penal law and better training of prosecutors so they understand victim trauma.

Godbold said in an interview that she was impressed by Lang at a roundtable last year where Lang understood the importance of not letting survivors feel powerless.

“She got it immediately," she said. "It's very important to me as a survivor and also as a trauma specialist that we have people in these top positions ... who really understand about trauma and who really understand about the importance of giving the survivor the power and control back.”

The Associated Press does not generally name sexual assault victims unless they consent to telling their stories publicly, as all of the women who endorsed Lang have done.

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