How The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Is Helping Victims Of Workplace Sexual Violence

After the initial allegations against Harvey Weinstein surfaced in October 2017, the #MeToo movement surged. It was part of the catalyst for creating the Work-Related Sexual Violence Team at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in January 2018, according to Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman Agnifilo. The team of 15 sex crimes prosecutors and one social worker is led by Assistant District Attorney Vanessa Puzio.


As part of due process for related cases, the survivor is usually asked to testify in court which can, understandably, feel intimidating, invasive and emotionally draining. But there are protections in place to help survivors seek justice, according to Jennifer Gentile Long, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and CEO of Aequitas, an organization that aims to improve the quality of justice in violent crimes including sexual violence.

“It is part of the system to be challenged and to allow the defendant a fair process, but skilled prosecutors have ways to step in and defend against harassment and undue embarrassment and prevent questioning about irrelevant things to create a bias against the victim for who he or she is versus what happened,” says Long.