Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has responded after sexual harassment allegations spanning almost three decades surfaced, with actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan among the accusers.
The film producer and co-founder of Miramax is best known for producing the likes of Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love and more.
A recent New York Times article features claims from various women, including Judd, McGowan and colleagues of Weinstein’s, about unwanted sexual advances. Since the article’s publication, Weinstein’s attorney has threatened to sue The NY Times for defamation.
Judd claims that Weinstein invited her to a business breakfast meeting two decades ago only to have her sent to his hotel room. Weinstein greeted her in a bathroom robe, Judd claims, proceeding to ask her to give him a massage and proposing that she watch him shower.
“How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” Judd told the NY Times that she remembers thinking.
The article also alleges that Weinstein reached a previously undisclosed settlement with Rose McGowan in 1997 for $100,000 over an incident in a hotel room during Sundance Film Festival. A legal document states that the settlement was “not to be construed as an admission” by Weinstein but was to “avoid litigation and buy peace”.
McGowan declined to comment to the NY Times on the reports, but has since tweeted: “Hollywood boy’s club press: protecting violators since 1919. You’re in foul company, gentlemen, you must be so proud of yourselves.”
Hollywood boy’s club press: protecting violators since 1919. You’re in foul company, gentlemen, you must be so proud of yourselves.
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 4, 2017
Elsewhere in the NY Times article, it is alleged that Weinstein reached at least eight settlements with various women dating as far back as 1990.
A former employee, Lauren O’Connor, is said to have sent a letter to Weinstein Company executives in 2015, describing there as being “a toxic environment for women” at the company. In her letter, O’Connor detailed an allegation by a female assistant, who said that Weinstein badgered her into giving him a massage while he was naked, leaving her “crying and very distraught”.
Responding to the allegations in a statement, Weinstein said: “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.”
He continued: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologise for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.” The producer stated that he was working with therapists and planned on taking a leave of absence to “deal with this issue head on”.
Weinstein’s statement also paraphrased a lyric from Jay-Z‘s latest album ‘4:44’. Scroll below to read it in full.
Lisa Bloom, a lawyer advising Weinstein, said that he “denies many of the accusations as patently false”. She also said that she has been advising Weinstein on gender and power dynamics, describing him as “an old dinosaur learning new ways”.
Bloom stated that she has “explained to him that due to the power difference between a major studio head like him and most others in the industry, whatever his motives, some of his words and behaviours can be perceived as inappropriate, even intimidating.”
Of O’Connor’s leaked letter, Bloom stated that the complaint was withdrawn after a settlement was reached, further commenting: “The parties made peace very quickly.”
Weinstein’s attorney Charles Harder has since threatened to sue the NY Times, describing its article as “saturated with false and defamatory statements”. A statement from Harder adds: “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 organisations.”
Read Harvey Weinstein’s full statement below:
“I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behaviour 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 apologise 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 organising 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.”