Harvey Weinstein responds to sexual harassment claims, plans to take legal action

WATCH: Harvey Weinstein facing sexual harassment accusations.

Harvey Weinstein is taking a leave of absence from The Weinstein Company film studio after The New York Times published a report detailing decades of sexual harassment allegations against him.

Weinstein is also speaking publicly about the allegations. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Weinsten was apologetic, saying “I own my mistakes” and “I have had tough conversations with my family, really tough ones but my family is standing with me.”

He also said that he must “earn the forgiveness” of actress Ashley Judd, who has accused Weinstein of indecent proposals during a film shoot 20 years ago.

READ MORE: Harvey Weinstein accused of sexually harassing women for decades

Weinstein added: “I have a journey and I have to prove to every person that’s out there that I’m worthy of them and I have to prove to my family the same thing.”

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In another interview with the New York Post, Weinstein said he “bears responsibility,” and “In the past, I used to compliment people, and some took it as me being sexual, I won’t do that again. I admit to a whole way of behaviour that is not good. I can’t talk specifics, but I put myself in positions that were stupid, I want to respect women and do things better.”

Weinstein has hired a lawyer and is suing the New York Times for $50 million.

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“What I am saying is that I bear responsibility for my actions, but the reason I am suing is because of the Times’ inability to be honest with me, and their reckless reporting,” Weinstein said. “They told me lies. They made assumptions.”

“The Times had a deal with us that they would tell us about the people they had on the record in the story, so we could respond appropriately, but they didn’t live up to the bargain,” he explained, adding, “The Times editors were so fearful they were going to be scooped by New York Magazine and they would lose the story, that they went ahead and posted the story filled with reckless reporting, and without checking all they had with me and my team.”

He went on to say, “This is a vendetta, and the next time I see [NYT executive editor] Dean Baquet it will be across a courtroom.”
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In regards to the claims that he has made several settlements with women, he said, “No company ever talks about settlements, and neither does the recipient, so I don’t know how the Times came to this conclusion, but it is pure conjecture, the reporters have made assumptions.”

Weinstein addressed Judd’s allegations, saying, “I know Ashley Judd is going through a tough time right now, I read her book [her memoir All That Is Bitter and Sweet], in which she talks about being the victim of sexual abuse and depression as a child. Her life story was brutal, and I have to respect her. In a year from now, I am going to reach out to her.”

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The New York Times 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.)

The Times‘ report claimed Weinstein has been accused of sexually harassing women in the film industry for almost three decades and 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.

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What emerged from the NYT investigation is numerous allegations of sexual harassment against Weinstein, by noted celebrities like actress Judd and Rose McGowan.

“Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time,” Judd said. “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.

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According to the NYT, the $100,000 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.”

“I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different. That was the culture then,” Weinstein, 65, wrote in a lengthy statement on Oct. 5. “I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone. I realized some time ago that I 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.”

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Weinstein went on to explain that he will be working with a team of therapists, assembled by his lawyer Lisa Bloom, to “learn about myself” and “conquer my demons.”

Weinstein is also preparing a lawsuit. “The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein,” Charles Harder, another lawyer representing the executive, said.

Harder continued, “It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by nine different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.”

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.

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Bloom said in a statement to the paper that her client “denies many of the accusations as patently false.”

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You can read the full investigation over at The New York Times. Global News has reached out to The Weinstein Company for comment.

—With files from Chris Jancelewicz