Jill Messick died Wednesday by suicide at age 50, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Messick, who battled depression and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was recently in the news when Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer attempted to discredit Rose McGowan’s rape claims against the mogul by offering an email from Messick (among people) as evidence. Messick had served as McGowan’s manager at the time McGowan says Weinstein raped her at the Sundance Film Festival. Later that year, Messick went on to work at Miramax.
Messick’s email regarding McGowan’s encounter with Weinstein read in part:
When we met up the following day, she hesitantly told me of her own accord that during the meeting that night before she had gotten into a hot tub with Mr. Weinstein. She was very clear about the fact that getting into that hot tub was something that she did consensually and that in hindsight it was also something that she regretted having done.
Following her death, Messick’s family issued a lengthy statement claiming that “seeing her name in headlines again and again, as part of one person’s attempt to gain more attention for her personal cause, along with Harvey’s desperate attempt to vindicate himself, was devastating for her. It broke Jill, who was just starting to get her life back on track.”
Messick’s family refers to Jill as “victimized by our new culture of unlimited information sharing and a willingness to accept statement as fact,” and “collateral damage in an already horrific story.” Statements McGowan has made in the press are described as “slanderous” and “inaccurate.” They claim in her recounting of the story to Messick, McGowan “never once used the word rape,” but regardless, “Jill recognized that Harvey had done something untoward to Rose, if not illegal” and reported it to her bosses. “What makes Rose’s inaccurate accusations and insinuations against Jill ironic was that she was the first person who stood up on Rose’s behalf, and alerted her bosses to the horrific experience which Rose suffered,” the family writes.
The email Weinstein released, they say, was done without Messick’s consent.
The statement ends with a lengthy meditation on the state of the media:
As we collectively seek to take action in an effort to right the wrongs so brazenly and inhumanely repeated for a generation, we must not forget one simple truth: words have power. While we illuminate the dark corners for hidden truths, we must remember that what we say, particularly in the media, can have just as much impact if not more than our actions. We must ask more of ourselves, and of each other. We must take a moment to consider the ramifications and consequences of what we say and what we do.
Someone’s life may depend on it.