A New York Times report published Thursday afternoon details decades of sexual harassment allegations by women against film industry titan Harvey Weinstein.
The accusations — including one from actress Ashley Judd, who spoke on the record — describe a similar pattern of sexual advances from Weinstein, which were allegedly often accompanied by promises of furthering the women’s careers. According to the Times, Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, among them “a young assistant in New York in 1990, an actress in 1997, an assistant in London in 1998, an Italian model in 2015 and [former Weinstein employee Lauren] O’Connor shortly after, according to records and those familiar with the agreements.” The Times also obtained a 2015 memo from O’Connor, who described the atmosphere to executives at his company: “I am a 28 year old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64 year old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.” The report quotes numerous former employees at the company who described a “toxic environment” for women.
Weinstein, a cofounder (with his brother, Bob) of Miramax and then the Weinstein Company, is one of the film industry’s most prominent producers. Between the two studios, he’s shepherded six Oscar Best Picture winners, including Shakespeare in Love and The King’s Speech, and critically beloved films like Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting. Weinstein’s career has often been marred by troubling accusations from those within the industry. Anecdotes about the mogul include putting a reporter in a headlock at a party, and, as detailed in David Carr’s 2001 profile for New York magazine, ripping up marketing posters in front of the designers when they weren’t up to his standards (“These all suck and you guys are morons for coming up with them,” he was reported to have said).
In the New York Times report, Judd expands on an incident she first shared — without names — in Variety in 2015. According to Judd, Weinstein invited her to his hotel room two decades ago while she was filming 1997’s Kiss the Girls, greeted the actress in a bathrobe, and asked if he could give her a massage or have her watch him shower. “Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly,” she told the Times.
In a statement provided to the Times on Thursday, Weinstein said he would take a leave of absence from his company. “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it,” the statement reads. “Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.” Soon after the story and Weinstein’s statement were published, Weinstein’s lawyer Charles Harder told The Hollywood Reporter that Weinstein would sue the Times. “The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein,” Harder wrote in an email. “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. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.”
The Times exposé is the first of two reported articles aimed at Weinstein. According to the Reporter, The New Yorker is also working on a “lengthy” piece about the mogul by NBC News correspondent Ronan Farrow.