As the lawyering up reported by Variety foretold, the New York Times published a detailed investigation on Thursday into several decades of sexual harassment allegedly committed by Harvey Weinstein, the powerful film producer and co-founder of Miramax and the Weinstein Company.
After collecting stories from women actors and former female employees of Weinstein (most of whom chose to remain anonymous), NYT reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey reported allegations of a disturbing pattern of behavior—considered by some to be a longstanding open secret in Hollywood—in which Weinstein would allegedly invite women to his hotel room under the pretense of a business meeting, then, once the women were alone in his room, act sexually inappropriate towards them.
Kantor and Twohey report:
In interviews, eight women described varying behavior by Mr. Weinstein: appearing nearly or fully naked in front of them, requiring them to be present while he bathed or repeatedly asking for a massage or initiating one himself. The women, typically in their early or mid-20s and hoping to get a toehold in the film industry, said he could switch course quickly — meetings and clipboards one moment, intimate comments the next. One woman advised a peer to wear a parka when summoned for duty as a layer of protection against unwelcome advances.
Actor Ashley Judd described meeting Weinstein in his room at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel.
When Mr. Weinstein invited Ms. Judd to breakfast in Beverly Hills, she had been shooting the thriller “Kiss the Girls” all night, but the meeting seemed too important to miss. After arriving at the hotel lobby, she was surprised to learn that they would be talking in his suite; she decided to order cereal, she said, so the food would come quickly and she could leave.
Mr. Weinstein soon issued invitation after invitation, she said. Could he give her a massage? When she refused, he suggested a shoulder rub. She rejected that too, she recalled. He steered her toward a closet, asking her to help pick out his clothing for the day, and then toward the bathroom. Would she watch him take a shower? she remembered him saying.
“I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask,” Ms. Judd said. “It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining.”
According to the NYT, Weinstein has reached settlements with at least eight women, including actor Rose McGowen and his former colleague Lauren O’Connor, whose explosive 2015 memo to the Weinstein Company brought to light multiple accusations of sexual harassment against Weinstein. As one employee told O’Connor:
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.
When called to private meetings, Kantor and Twohey write, female employees often decided to go in pairs to avoid Weinstein’s aggressive advances. Other female former employees expressed discomfort at setting up meetings between Weinstein and other women, as they worried about putting the women in unsafe situations.
In a statement to the paper, Weinstein—represented by attorney Lisa Bloom—said, “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.”
In addition to being one of the most powerful film executives in the world, Weinstein is also a staunch supporter and major donor to the Democratic party, counting both Hillary Clinton and the Obamas among his acquaintances. (Malia Obama interned for the Weinstein Company earlier this year.) Kantor and Twohey’s reporting begs the question of who within Weinstein’s “inner circle” knew about his sexual misconduct, how much they knew, and when. Kantor and Twohey write:
“It wasn’t a secret to the inner circle,” said Kathy DeClesis, Bob Weinstein’s assistant in the early 1990s. She supervised a young woman who left the company abruptly after an encounter with Harvey Weinstein and who later received a settlement, according to several former employees.
Allegations against Weinstein—who is known for his explosive temper—have been made both publicly and privately for years. Bloom says Weinstein “denies many of the accusations as patently false.”
After the release of the NYT article on Thursday, Weinstein sent the paper the following statement:
I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, 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 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. 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.