Harvey Weinstein has been using his power as a big-time Hollywood producer to sexually harass employees over the course of almost three decades, according to a report published by The New York Times on Thursday.
The studio head, who The Times describes as a “liberal lion” and a “champion of women,” has been taking advantage of the power dynamic between himself and his subordinates for decades. The report, which includes accounts from several of Weinstein’s accusers, claims that the movie mogul has reached at least eight settlements with women over sexual harassment over the years.
The Times report details a long list of alleged instances of sexual harassment against Weinstein from both current and former employees, film industry workers, legal records, emails and internal documents from both Miramax and the Weinstein Company.
The countless accusations, detailing Weinstein’s advances, come from former assistants, actresses, models and others who have all allegedly reached settlements with the film executive over the years. Many of them spoke on the condition of anonymity, but a lot of the details of The Times report come from actress Ashley Judd and former employee Lauren O’Connor.
Weinstein’s advancements at younger women over the decades typically happened during hotel meetings, as detailed in the bombshell report. While the Hollywood producer was married through most of the years that the allegations come from, he often invited his accusers up to his hotel room where he would make sexual passes at them.
Dozens of current and former employees knew of his inappropriate conduct, but only a few were brave enough to risk their careers to tell the truth and several of those were then silenced by settlements.
“From the outside, it seemed golden — the Oscars, the success, the remarkable cultural impact,” Mark Gill, former president of Miramax Los Angeles, told The Times.
“But behind the scenes, it was a mess, and this was the biggest mess of all,” Gill added, referring to Weinstein’s treatment of women.
Weinstein and his representatives denied to comment on any of the settlements to The Times and his lawyer, Lisa Bloom, denied “many of the accusations as patently false.” However, Weinstein apologized for his actions.
“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,” he told The Times in a statement on Thursday. He also said he’s planning to take a leave of absence to “deal with this issue head on.”
Bloom, who has been advising Weinstein for a year, described him as “an old dinosaur learning new ways.” She advised 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 behaviors can be perceived as inappropriate, even intimidating.”
After The Times report made its rounds on Thursday another attorney named Charles Harder, who also represents Weinstein, said he plans to sue The Times over the report.
“The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein,” he wrote in an email to The Hollywood Reporter. “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 organizations.”