An avalanche of allegations poured out Tuesday against Harvey Weinstein in on-the-record reports that detailed claims of sexual abuse and included testimonies from Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, further intensifying the already explosive collapse of the disgraced movie mogul.
In a report published Tuesday in the New York Times, the Oscar-winning actresses went on the record to describe incidents that took place earlier in their careers.
“I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified,” Paltrow told the Times about the incident, after the then-22-year-old had been hired to star in the film Emma.
Paltrow described Weinstein’s attempt to lure her into giving him a massage in a hotel room. The incident prompted her then boyfriend Brad Pitt to angrily confront Weinstein at a film premiere.
‘This behaviour towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.’– Angelina Jolie
Jolie told the Times that Weinstein had made unwanted advances toward her during the release of her film Playing By Heart.
“I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did,” Jolie told the Times.
“This behaviour towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.”
The Times story came just hours after The New Yorker published an explosive report alleging that Harvey Weinstein had previously raped three women. A representative for Weinstein vehemently denied the allegations in a statement to the magazine.
The New Yorker exposé by correspondent Ronan Farrow, published Tuesday morning after 10 months of work, detailed allegations not just of sexual harassment but of three incidents involving rape. Actress Asia Argento and a former aspiring actress named Lucia Evans went on the record to allege Weinstein forced himself on them sexually. A third woman spoke anonymously.
Evans, then a senior at Middlebury College, said Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004 at the Miramax offices in Tribeca. She had been brought in for a casting meeting with Weinstein.
Argento, an actress and director, said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999. A third woman spoke anonymously.
“I know he has crushed a lot of people before,” Argento told The New Yorker. “That’s why this story — in my case, it’s 20 years old, some of them are older — has never come out.”
Former actress and screenwriter Louisette Geiss said Weinstein appeared in an open bathrobe with no clothes on during a meeting at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
Geiss said Weinstein asked several times that she watch him masturbate during the 2008 encounter.
She made the allegations Tuesday during a news conference with attorney Gloria Allred, who invited Weinstein to meet with his alleged victims in a mediation or arbitration process.
Geiss said in a statement that she is coming forward to help give voice to other alleged victims of sexual harassment. She said her experience with Weinstein led to her departure from the entertainment industry. She now works in real estate.
Italian actress and filmmaker Asia Argento, seen at the Cannes Film Festival in May, is one of the women who spoke to The New Yorker, alleging Weinstein forced himself on her sexually. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)
Attorneys for Weinstein did not immediately return messages Tuesday. The New Yorker quoted Weinstein representative Sallie Hofmeister responding that “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”
The story revealed that 13 women have said Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them between 1990 and 2015. The incidents described range from unwanted groping to forced sex.
Some of those incidents overlap with the eight allegations of sexual harassment previously reported by The New York Times, all of which resulted in financial settlements.
But they also go much further. In the article, Rosanna Arquette and Mira Sorvino are among those who claim Weinstein sexually harassed them.
Representatives for the actresses did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Arquette described a 1990s incident at a Beverly Hills hotel in which Weinstein tried to make her give him a massage and then attempted to lead her hand to his penis. Afterward, the actress told the magazine, “He made things very difficult for me for years.”
The New Yorker revealed an audio recording made by the New York Police Department in 2015 in which Weinstein says he groped a model named Ambra Battilana Guitierrez. At the time, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced that an investigation didn’t support criminal charges.
“If we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have,” Karen Friedman-Agnifilo, chief assistant district attorney, said Tuesday.
“While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent,” she said. “Subsequent investigative steps undertaken in order to establish intent were not successful. This, coupled with other proof issues, meant that there was no choice but to conclude the investigation without criminal charges.”
But the NYPD released a statement Tuesday saying that the case was “carried out by experienced detectives and supervisors from NYPD’s Special Victims Unit.… The recorded conversation with the subject corroborates the acts that were the basis for the victim’s complaint to the police a day earlier.”
The statement also said the recorded conversation was “just one aspect of the case against the subject. This evidence, along with other statements and timeline information was presented to the office of the Manhattan District Attorney.”
The magazine also reported that 16 former and current executives and assistants at The Weinstein Co. and Miramax either witnessed or knew of Weinstein’s unwanted sexual advances. “All 16 said the behaviour was widely known within both Miramax and the Weinstein Company.”
Representatives for The Weinstein Co. didn’t immediately respond to messages.
Hollywood partners react
The powerful studio boss was fired by his own company over the weekend.
Since his firing, much of Hollywood has reacted with disgust and outrage, including Meryl Streep, Lena Dunham, Jennifer Lawrence and George Clooney.
Hillary Clinton said she was ‘shocked and appalled by the revelations’ about Weinstein, who is a major Democratic Party donor and fundraiser. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Congressional Democrats, including Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have given to charities thousands of dollars in donations they had received from Weinstein.
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, for whom Weinstein was a high-profile supporter during her failed bid for the White House, issued a statement Tuesday praising the women coming forward.
“I am saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades,” Ben Affleck wrote in a statement Tuesday.
“The additional allegations of assault that I read this morning made me sick. This is completely unacceptable, and I find myself asking what I can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to others.
“We need to do better at protecting our sisters, friends, co-workers and daughters. We must support those who come forward, condemn this type of behavior when we see it and help ensure there are more women in positions of power,” said Affleck, who won an Oscar for co-writing the Miramax-produced film Good Will Hunting.
Matt Damon, who collaborated frequently with Weinstein, including co-writing Good Will Hunting with Affleck, said he didn’t know about Weinstein’s behaviour.
“This morning, I just feel absolutely sick to my stomach,” Damon told the trade website Deadline Tuesday. “This kind of stuff can’t happen.”
Weinstein has not publicly commented since Thursday.
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