Louisette Geiss, a former producer, was joined by her lawyer Gloria Allred, at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, to add her name to the growing list of accusers alleging that Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them over the span of his 30 year career.
Geiss saw Weinstein at Sundance in 2008. Geiss says that he asked her about a script she was pitching, and she agreed to a meeting at a restaurant. When the restaurant closed, she claims Weinstein offered to move the meeting to his office, which happened to be adjacent to his hotel room. Geiss was suspect, having heard the stories of Weinstein’s alleged misconduct before, so she says she made sure to note the location of a hotel security camera, telling him, allegedly, that “I will shake your hand if you do not touch me.” Weinstein allegedly “laughed it off.” She claims that they spoke at his office and, after a half hour, Weinstein went to the bathroom and returned, wearing an open bathroom and nothing else, “buck naked.”
According to Geiss’s statement, Weinstein asked Geiss to keep talking about her film, while he jumped in the hot tub and, masturbated. Geiss claims that after she finished her pitch, Weinstein stood up, grabbed Geiss’s arm and led her to his bathroom, “pleading” that she just stay to watch him masturbate. She managed to make her way to the door, while Weinstein followed, telling her that if she stayed and watched him masturbate, he could help advance her career as only a man of his considerable clout and power could, according to her statement. She left, telling only her sister and a good friend immediately after; when people asked her later why she left the movie industry, she shared this story.
“I know that I’m not special,” she said in her statement. “I know that this has happened to many women. It’s the fear and pain of sexual harassment that is released on one’s mind, body and soul that I’m trying to stop.” Through tears, she said “I don’t think Harvey Weinstein understand or comprehends how much pain and suffering this brings to me and scores of other women.”
Geiss alleges that the incident she described took place in Utah in 2008; per Allred, who answered questions after her client spoke, the statute of limitations has expired and so Allred’s stated hope is for an arbitration, rather than a settlement.
“I think he wants to work in this town again,” she said. “I think it’s an invitation to help. It’s not instead of therapy, it’s in addition to, and in the event he were ale to accept our invitation to do that, then I feel that those alleged victims who have contacted me would feel much better about Mr. Weinstein.” Allred was also pressed by a reporter to address Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie speaking out about the allegations against Weinstein; in response to a question about why those women stayed silent, she offered no comment, but said, “Women are now empowered and the casting couch scenarios are just going to have to end. It’s not acceptable anymore and it’s not going to be tolerated...women are not going to be silenced.”
Though it seemed an inevitability that Allred would eventually position herself against Weinstein and represent some of the accusers, it’s interesting to think about what could have been had her daughter, Lisa Bloom, stayed on as Weinstein’s adviser. Bloom quit over the weekend, after getting into a public-facing argument via statement with her mother. “She informed me that she was never retained to represent him in any process involving any claim against him,” Allred clarified, then declined to say anything further about her daughter, because her “focus today is on the victims.”
Allred also demurred when asked about other women that had contacted her or whether the allegations against Weinstein could lead to further revelations about other famous men in power. When asked if there were other producers who have been named by alleged victims in Hollywood, she declined to comment. “Let’s just put it this way, that wouldn’t be a surprise to me.”