Hollywood reacts to accusations of 'decades' of sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein

Ben Arnold
·Contributor

Hollywood has reacted to the explosive exposé by the New York Times claiming that producer Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed women in the movie business.

Weinstein, who has now taken a ‘leave of absence’ amid the allegations, has reached settlements with at least eight women out of court over behaviour said to have spanned nearly three decades, according to reports.

McGowan is said to be among the women that Weinstein settled out of court with – a $100,000 payment followed an alleged incident in a hotel room at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997.

Ashley Judd is also among them, and said that two decades ago, she was asked to his room at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for a meeting, where she was greeted by him in a bathrobe and asked to massage him or watch him shower.

“How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” she recalled.

“I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask. … It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining.

“Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.”

(AP Photo/File)
(AP Photo/File)

In a pattern of behaviour, other women have described similar or almost identical encounters with the producer, who has made movies from ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Good Will Hunting’ to hit TV shows like ‘Project Runway’ with his businesses Miramax and The Weinstein Company.

In a memo unearthed by the Times from another former employee to executives at the company, Lauren O’Connor described ‘a toxic environment for women’.

“I am just starting out in my career, and have been and remain fearful about speaking up,” O’Connor wrote.

“But remaining silent is causing me great distress… the balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.

“I am a professional and have tried to be professional. I am not treated that way however. I am sexualized and diminished.”

As well as O’Connor, who is thought to have settled a case in 2015, others involved in the alleged harassment included a young assistant in New York in 1990, an actress in 1997, an assistant in London in 1998, and an Italian model in 2015.

Through his lawyers, Weinstein has said that many of the allegations made against him are false, however, he has nevertheless apologised publicly.

“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 said in a 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. My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons.”

Since the story broke, Weinstein’s lawyers have said they plan to sue the New York Times for as much as $50 million.

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