The New York Times article that prompted film and TV mogul Harvey Weinstein to hire two celebrity litigators has been published, and it’s as explosive as you might expect. Entitled “Decades Of Sexual Harassment Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein,” the article opens with actress Ashley Judd recalling an incident where Weinstein asked her to his hotel room for a breakfast business meeting, only to ask her if she would watch him shower or give him a massage. It goes on to allege a culture of harassment at Miramax and The Weinstein Co. that goes back three decades, and was reportedly so pervasive that one female employee advised another to wear a parka when meeting with Weinstein to fend off advances.
The article describes Weinstein’s alleged modus operandi with actresses, assistants, potential employees, and other women in his orbit; namely, he would invite them to a hotel for a business meeting, then sexually proposition them once they arrived. Weinstein would also allegedly appear naked in front of junior employees, make them stay in the room as he bathed, and force them to give him massages while he was naked. “The women, typically in their early or mid-20s and hoping to get a toehold in the film industry, said he could switch course quickly — meetings and clipboards one moment, intimate comments the next,” the article says.
Two company officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, tell the NYT that Weinstein has allegedly settled with at least eight women who charged him with harassment over the years. Until now, a culture of silence has reportedly prevailed at Miramax and the Weinstein Co.; dozens of employees who spoke to the newspaper said they had heard about Weinstein’s alleged inappropriate behavior, but were pressured to remain silent. Similarly, a review of employee contracts by the NYT found language prohibiting saying anything that could harm the company’s “business reputation” or “any employee’s personal reputation.”
Still, a handful of complaints about Weinstein’s behavior have emerged over the years; one, a report by Italian actress Ambra Battilana stating that Weinstein had groped her during a meeting at his office, was investigated by the NYPD’s Special Victims Squad, but no charges were ultimately filed. Another, a memo sent out by executive Lauren O’Connor in 2015, alleged,“there is a toxic environment for women at this company.” O’Connor’s memo reportedly “shocked” Weinstein Co. board members, including Weinstein’s brother Bob; however, they declined to investigate O’Connor’s charges. Weinstein and O’Connor later settled out of court, according to the story.
Asked for comment, Weinstein responded with a lengthy, Jay Z-quoting statement that begins: “I came of age in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then ... I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.” He added that he is taking a leave of absence from the company and undergoing therapy to “deal with this issue head on.”
Lisa Bloom, one of Weinstein’s attorneys who specializes in sexual harassment cases, adds that she has been advising him on “gender and power dynamics” for the past year, calling him “an old dinosaur learning new ways.” She adds that she’s “explained to him that due to the power difference between a major studio head like him and most others in the industry, whatever his motives, some of his words and behaviors can be perceived as inappropriate, even intimidating.”
You can read the rest of the article, written by New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, here.