Leading American producer Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed female assistants, executives and actresses for several years, according to a report in the New York Times. Weinstein reportedly reached confidential settlements with eight women over the course of three decades.
Weinstein has taken a leave of absence from his company in the wake of the report.
Actor Ashley Judd, among the women allegedly harassed, has been cited in the Times report. Weinstein invited Judd to the Peninsula Beverley Hills hotel for what she presumed was a breakfast meeting. But she was sent to his room where he greeted her in a bathrobe and asked her to watch him shower, she claimed.
“Dozens of Mr. Weinstein’s former and current employees, from assistants to top executives, said they knew of inappropriate conduct while they worked for him,” the report said. “Only a handful said they ever confronted him….Mr. Weinstein enforced a code of silence; employees of the Weinstein Company have contracts saying they will not criticize it or its leaders in a way that could harm its “business reputation” or “any employee’s personal reputation,” a recent document shows. And most of the women accepting payouts agreed to confidentiality clauses prohibiting them from speaking about the deals or the events that led to them.”
Weinstein said in a statement to the Times: “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, 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.”
In an interview to New York Post, Weinstein accused the Times of pursuing a vendetta against him with “reckless reporting”. The producer threatened to sue New York Times for an estimated $50 million for “making false and defamatory statements” against him. However, a New York Times spokesperson has confirmed that the publication is confident in the accuracy of its 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,” the spokesperson told Deadline.
Weinstein has produced several Oscar-winning films, including Pulp Fiction (1994), The English Patient (1996), Good Will Hunting (1997), Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Chicago (2002). The Weinstein Company, which he owns with his brother Bob, has produced critical and commercial successes like The King’s Speech (2010), The Artist (2011) and Silver Linings Playbook (2012). He is also the producer of many Tony Award-winning shows on Broadway, and the television show Project Runway. Weinstein frequently donates to the Democratic Party, and had hosted a fund raiser for Hillary Clinton at his Manhattan residence last year. The Republican National Committee has released a statement calling on Democrats to return his donations, CNN reported.