Harvey Weinstein, one of the biggest movie producers and film studio executives in the world, has been accused of decades of sexual harassment allegations in a bombshell investigation by The New York Times.
The news organization says its reporters interviewed numerous people who had been involved with Weinstein and The Weinstein Company over the last 30 years, including movie industry insiders and current and past employees. The newspaper goes on to say their reporters also combed through emails, internal documents and legal records. (His previous film company, Miramax, was not exempt from the investigation.)
“Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time,” confirmed Judd. “And it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.”
According to the NYT, McGowan reached a previously undisclosed settlement with Weinstein for $100,000 in 1997 after an incident in a hotel room. She declined to comment to the NYT, but tweeted out some messages after the investigation’s publication.
The $100,000 settlement agreement indicated that the settlement was “not to be construed as an admission” on Weinstein’s part, but was intended to “avoid litigation and buy peace.”
Each alleged victim experience — documented in the NYT article — has commonalities to the next: women, some employees, some not, were summoned to his office to allegedly find Weinstein either partially clothed or fully naked, and he’d often ask for a massage or for them to watch him while he showered.
Because of Weinstein’s unquestionable power in Hollywood, the women often felt pressure to acquiesce to his demands, the women claim. It even got to the point where if a female employee was called to Weinstein’s office, they’d bring along a friend to “double up” and escape potential harassment, according to the NYT report.
Another discovery, according to the investigative findings, were (at least) eight settlements with various women, reached after they’d accused him of unwanted physical contact and sexual harassment. Most of the women who accepted such payouts signed confidentiality clauses prohibiting them from telling their stories.
In response to the NYT piece, Weinstein, 65, claims he’s “working with therapists” and has announced he’ll be taking a leave of absence to “deal with the issue head-on.”
“I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain,” he said Thursday. “And I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
As for employee concerns about his behaviour in the workplace, he says his “motto is to keep the peace.”
His statements fly in the face of many employees’ recollections of working with Weinstein. According to the NYT, dozens of his former and current workers claim to have witnessed his “inappropriate conduct.” Only a mere few said they confronted him on it.
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Prominent celebrity lawyer Lisa Bloom, who’s advising Weinstein, said that he “denies many of the accusations as patently false,” and in his defense called him “an old dinosaur learning new ways.”
The Weinstein Company (and Miramax before it) have been behind many Oscar-winning movies, including Chicago, Shakespeare in Love, The Artist and Good Will Hunting.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Charles Harder, says that he’s preparing a lawsuit against the NYT. Any proceeds from the pending case will be donated to women’s organizations, he claims.
“The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein,” said Harder. “It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by 9 different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish.”
The Times stood by the story.
“We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting. Mr. Weinstein was aware and able to respond to specific allegations in our story before publication. In fact, we published his response in full,” a spokesman said via email.
In the face of the accusations, Weinstein released a statement on Thursday:
“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 have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone.
I realized some time ago that needed to be a better person, and my interactions with the people I work with have changed. 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. That is my commitment. My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons. Over the last year, I’ve asked Lisa Bloom to tutor me, and she’s put together a team of people. I’ve brought on therapists, and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head on. I so respect all women, and regret what happened.
I hope that my actions will speak louder than words and that one day we will all be able to earn their trust and sit down together with Lisa to learn more. Jay Z wrote in 4:44 ‘I’m not the man I thought I was, and I better be that man for my children.’ The same is true for me. I want a second chance in the community, but I know I’ve got work to do to earn it. I have goals that are now priorities. Trust me, this isn’t an overnight process. I’ve been trying to do this for 10 years, and this is a wake-up call. I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt, and I plan to do right by all of them.
I am going to need a place to channel that anger, so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre will enjoy his retirement party. I’m going to do it at the same place I had my Bar Mitzvah. I’m making a movie about our President, perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party. One year ago, I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC. While this might seem coincidental, it has been in the works for a year. It will be named after my mom, and I won’t disappoint her.”
You can read the full investigation over at The New York Times. Global News has reached out to The Weinstein Company for comment.