Harvey Weinstein‘s latest legal strategy has backfired.
In legal documents obtained by the Blast, the embattled Hollywood mogul responded to the sexual misconduct class-action lawsuit against him by claiming he had the support of major female stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lawrence, and Meryl Streep.
Although Paltrow told the New York Times in October that Weinstein sexually harassed her ahead of filming for the 1996 Miramax film Emma, his legal team has argued that the actress “was not so offended that she refused to work with Weinstein again, nor did her career suffer as a result of her rebuffing his alleged advances.” They also note that Paltrow won an Oscar for her work in a subsequent Miramax project, Shakespeare in Love.
Weinstein also took the liberty of name-checking Streep and Lawrence, citing statements both Oscar-winning actresses made denying any firsthand knowledge of his allegedly abusive behavior. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Lawrence noted that she had known Weinstein since she was 20 and that “he had only ever been nice to me.” Streep, meanwhile, is quoted as saying that the producer had been “respectful” to her.
But those experiences shouldn’t be construed as endorsements. Both Streep and Lawrence have issued statements accusing the Weinstein legal team of misrepresenting their words.
“Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys’ use of my (true) statement — that he was not sexually transgressive or physically abusive in our business relationship — as evidence that he was not abusive with many OTHER women is pathetic and exploitive,” Streep said in a statement.
“The criminal actions he is accused of conducting on the bodies of these women are his responsibility, and if there is any justice left in the system he will pay for them — regardless of how many good movies, made by many good people, Harvey was lucky enough to have acquired or financed,” she added.
Lawrence likened Weinstein to a “predator” in a statement obtained by TMZ.
“Harvey Weinstein and his company are continuing to do what they have always done, which is to take things out of context and use them for their own benefit,” the Red Sparrow star said. “This is what predators do, and it must stop.”
“For the record, while I was not victimized personally by Harvey Weinstein, I stand behind the women who have survived his terrible abuse and I applaud them in using all means necessary to bring him to justice whether through criminal or civil actions. Time’s up.”
Weinstein’s legal team also asked to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that the actions of which Weinstein is accused — including kissing, hugging, chasing women around hotel rooms, and masturbating in their presence — did not count as “sexual contact.”
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