Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace began with allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct. In a new report in The New Yorker, several women’s stories of sexual abuse are re-told. Three women are now accusing him of rape.
Weinstein has been a dominant force in Hollywood since he and his brother, Bob, founded Miramax, a production and film distribution company, in 1979. They went on to start The Weinstein Company, where they continued to crank out hit films, including “Pulp Fiction,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “The King’s Speech.”
Outside of entertainment, Harvey Weinstein is a major donor and campaign fundraiser for the Democratic Party, including showering support on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Yet through it all, reports say that for some 20 years, many in Hollywood knew that allegations of sexual misconduct had plagued the mega-producer. “Previous attempts by many publications, including The New Yorker, to investigate and publish the story over the years fell short of the demands of journalistic evidence,” the publication claims.
That changed when The New York Times broke the story last week, revealing several allegations of sexual harassment against Weinstein. After that, the ball rolled downhill for Weinstein, who is facing public outrage and was recently fired from the company he founded.
With Weinstein and his associates using nondisclosure agreements, monetary payoffs, and legal threats, previous attempts to out Weinstein’s behavior fell flat. Now, according to The New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow, his 10-month investigation revealed thirteen women who allege abuse.
According to the report: “Between the nineteen-nineties and 2015, Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted [the 13 women], allegations that corroborate and overlap with the Times’s revelations, and also include far more serious claims.”
Three women––among them [Italian film actress and director Asia] Argento and a former aspiring actress named Lucia Evans—told me that Weinstein raped them, allegations that include Weinstein forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex.
Four women said that they experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault. In an audio recording captured during a New York Police Department sting operation in 2015 and made public here for the first time, Weinstein admits to groping a Filipina-Italian model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, describing it as behavior he is “used to.” Four of the women I interviewed cited encounters in which Weinstein exposed himself or masturbated in front of them.
(The audio referenced is provided below.)
Farrow says that sixteen of Weinstein’s former and current co-workers told him they had “witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching.”
“They and others describe a pattern of professional meetings that were little more than thin pretexts for sexual advances on young actresses and models,” Farrow wrote.
Some employees even reported being asked to help Weinstein’s victims feel secure, whereby female employees would initially join a meeting, then later leave him alone with the woman.
Other former employees said they were speaking out now to protect women in the future, as they said Weinstein’s behavior was “ongoing” and “predatory.”
Farrow says nearly everyone he spoke to was afraid of retaliation. According to the report: “If Harvey were to discover my identity, I’m worried that he could ruin my life,” one former employee told me. Many said that they had seen Weinstein’s associates confront and intimidate those who crossed him, and feared that they would be similarly targeted.
Sources reported that Weinstein bragged he’d planted media stories about those who crossed him. After the sting operation with Gutierrez in 2015, negative stories about her sexual history appeared in New York gossip pages, according to the report.
Four actresses who spoke to Farrow felt they were removed from projects with the company because they rejected Weinstein’s advances, including Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette.
While Weinstein has responded to the Times piece saying he understands he behaved badly in the past and “sincerely” apologized for it, he and his representatives say all incidents were consensual and were not widespread.
Farrow found women who contend that his abuse of them was not consensual and included several in The New Yorker report, three are detailed in the following examples (WARNING: Descriptions are detailed and disturbing).
Lucia Evans was approached by Weinstein at a club in New York in 2004. After dogging her for some time, Weinstein had an assistant set up a daytime meeting at the Miramax office that was supposed to include a woman. When Evans arrived, she ended up in a room with Weinstein alone. Evans reports being frightened, as the producer began “simultaneously flattering me and demeaning me.”
She reports that at that point, he assaulted her.
“He forced me to perform oral sex on him.” As she objected, Weinstein took his penis out of his pants and pulled her head down onto it.
Evans reports that she “gave up” fighting after a while, and believes that’s why he has gotten away with abuse for so long. “People give up, and then they feel like it’s their fault,” she reportedly said.
Afterward, Evans said Weinstein “acted as if nothing had happened” and she went on to meet with a female casting executive. She reports feeling shame and fear after the assault, which she did not report to authorities.
Another report came from Asia Argento, an actress from Rome. Argento said Weinstein assaulted her while they worked together on the crime drama, “B. Monkey.”
In 1997, she was invited to a party thrown by Miramax. Feeling obligated to attend, she went and was led upstairs where there was no party—only a hotel room with Weinstein. She was told she’d been brought to the party too early, and she was left alone with Weinstein. The filmmaker reportedly complimented the actress, then left the room, returning in a bathrobe.
“He asks me to give a massage. I was, like, ‘Look, man, I am no fu–ing fool,’” Argento said. “But, looking back, I am a fu–ing fool. And I am still trying to come to grips with what happened.”
Argento said that, after she reluctantly agreed to give Weinstein a massage, he pulled her skirt up, forced her legs apart, and performed oral sex on her as she repeatedly told him to stop. Weinstein “terrified me, and he was so big,” she said. “It wouldn’t stop. It was a nightmare.”
Argento reported that she “stopped saying no and feigned enjoyment because she thought it was the only way the assault would end.” She says she was not a willing partner but felt intimidated by Weinstein’s size and “didn’t physically fight him off,” which has resulted in guilt.
Afterward, Argento said, “He kept contacting me.” For a few months, Weinstein seemed obsessed, offering her expensive gifts.
Argento said she eventually “grew close” to Weinstein, and that she had “consensual sexual relations with him multiple times over the course of the next five years.”
The actress never reported the abuse because she said she knew she would have less credibility. She did write and direct “Scarlet Diva,” released in 2000. At one point in the film, a heavyset producer corners a character in a hotel room, asks her for a massage and tries to assault her.
After the movie came out, women began approaching Argento, saying that they recognized Weinstein’s behavior in the portrayal. “People would ask me about him because of the scene in the movie,” she said. Some recounted similar details to her: meetings and professional events moved to hotel rooms, bathrobes and massage requests, and, in one other case, forced oral sex.
Finally, Battilana Gutierrez, who was once a finalist in the Miss Italy contest, met Weinstein at Radio City Music Hall.
Following the event, Guterriez’s agency e-mailed to say that Weinstein wanted to set up a business meeting as soon as possible. Gutierrez arrived at Weinstein’s office in Tribeca early the next evening with her modeling portfolio. In the office, she sat with Weinstein on a couch to review the portfolio, and he began staring at her breasts, asking if they were real. Gutierrez later told officers of the New York Police Department Special Victims Division that Weinstein then lunged at her, groping her breasts and attempting to put a hand up her skirt while she protested.
Gutierrez went to the N.Y.P.D. and reported the assault. Weinstein called her regarding a missed meeting, and she picked up the call accompanied by investigators from the Special Victims Division, who listened in.
Gutierrez later agreed to meet with Weinstein, but detectives planned to put a wire on her to extract an incriminating statement.
The next day, Gutierrez met Weinstein at the bar of the Tribeca Grand Hotel. A team of undercover officers helped guide her through the interaction. On the recording, which I have heard in full, Weinstein lists actresses whose careers he has helped and offers Gutierrez the services of a dialect coach. Then he presses her to join him in his hotel room while he showers. Gutierrez says no repeatedly; Weinstein persists, and after a while, she accedes to his demand to go upstairs. But, standing in the hallway outside his room, she refuses to go farther. In an increasingly tense exchange, he presses her to enter. Gutierrez says, “I don’t want to, I want to leave,” and, “I want to go downstairs.” She asks him directly why he groped her breasts the day before.
“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in,” Weinstein says. “I’m used to that. Come on. Please.”
“You’re used to that?” Guttierrez asks, sounding incredulous.
“Yes,” Weinstein says. He later adds, “I won’t do it again.”
After almost two minutes of back-and-forth in the hallway, Weinstein finally agrees to let her leave.
Gutierrez’s past came out in the tabloids, and later, “facing Weinstein’s legal team, and in return for a payment, signed a highly restrictive nondisclosure agreement with Weinstein, including an affidavit stating that the acts Weinstein admits to in the recording never happened.”
There are additional accounts in Farrow’s report. Below is the audio recording of Gutierrez incident.
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