More Women Allege Misconduct By Harvey Weinstein, Including Sexual Assault
Editor's note: This story includes explicit language describing alleged sexual assaults.
New allegations against the film executive Harvey Weinstein emerged Tuesday, including multiple instances of sexual assault and a recording by New York City police in which he admits to groping a woman.
The details were published in The New Yorker, the result of a ten-month investigation by reporter Ronan Farrow. In the course of his investigation, Farrow says he was told by 13 women that Weinstein had sexually harassed and assaulted them – allegations that add to reporting last week in The New York Times that Weinstein had paid off accusers for decades.
Since the Times story broke, four members of the Weinstein Company's all-male board resigned; the remaining four members (including his brother, Bob) fired Weinstein on Sunday. They issued a statement Tuesday saying they were "shocked and dismayed" by the allegations, which they called "an utter surprise." They said the "alleged actions are antithetical to human decency."
Three women, including the Italian actress Asia Argento and a former aspiring actress named Lucia Evans, said that Weinstein had raped them, "allegations that include Weinstein forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex," Farrow writes. "Four women said that they experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault."
The New Yorker's investigation also revealed a recording from a sting operation by the New York Police Department in 2015, in which Weinstein tries to convince a Filipina-Italian model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez to sit in the bathroom while he showers. She says no repeatedly; Weinstein claims she is embarrassing him. When Gutierrez asks why he touched her breasts the previous day, Weinstein replies, "I'm used to that."
Farrow tells NPR's All Things Considered that once he began investigating, "when you talk to one woman about this, they refer to having heard from other women stories that were ... similar not just in a general sense, but had uncanny patterns between them."
Some have called the allegations against Weinstein an open secret – a secret that seems to have been kept by a mix of shame and fear of retribution.
Argento, the Italian actress, said that Weinstein had forcibly performed oral sex on her, but that she was scared of speaking up for fear that he would "crush" her. "I know he has crushed a lot of people before," she said.
A spokeswoman for Weinstein said in a statement to the New Yorker that he believes all the relationships were consensual: "Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr.Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances."
In a previous statement to the Times, Weinstein wrote that he "came of age in the 60's and 70's, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. ... I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it."
The allegations of sexual harassment and assault come from women who were often in their early or mid-20s, and who felt intimidated by Weinstein's power. Anonymous employees of the Weinstein Companies told the New Yorker that for decades, Weinstein would arrange business meetings at hotels with young women who were actresses or models.
One female executive told Farrow that some female company employees were made to be "honeypots" : they would initially be present at the hotel meetings before being dismissed by Weinstein, leaving the young actress or model alone with him.
"One of the reasons this is so hard ... is many women, over and over again, through the years have signed non-disclosure agreements with Harvey Weinstein, in exchange for very large sums," Farrow tells NPR. "The crux of it is this: he was able to buy silence, over and over again. And these agreements are ironclad."
Farrow says he read one of the settlements, which included an affidavit saying that Weinstein is innocent. But, he says, "clearly the audio [from the NYPD sting] suggests something else."
Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Mira Sorvino, and Rosanna Arquette are among those who say they were sexually harassed by Weinstein.
Arquette described an incident to the New Yorker in which she was supposed to meet Weinstein for a dinner meeting, but when she arrived, was told to meet him in his hotel room. When she arrived at the room, Weinstein was wearing only a bathrobe and asked for a massage. He grabbed her hand and pulled it toward him, exposing himself, she says. When she rejected his advances, Weinstein reportedly told her she was making a huge mistake. "He made things very difficult for me for years," she told Farrow.
Jolie said she also rejected unwanted advances from Weinstein in a hotel room.
"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," she wrote in an email to the Times. "This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable."
Many of Weinstein's accusers were working in his films at the time of the alleged encounters. "They depended on him for their income, so they were afraid of losing that," Farrow tells NPR.
Two reasons may account for the allegations against Weinstein emerging now. First, many women have spoken out recently against other powerful men, including Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Bill O'Reilly, and Roger Ailes.
Second, Weinstein isn't as powerful in Hollywood as he once was. Farrow says that many of the executives and assistants he interviewed for his story told him that a factor in deciding to speak up was that Weinstein is now "less able to hurt them."
"Allegations only emerge when their grip on power and success slips," Farrow says.
On Tuesday evening, People reported that Weinstein's wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, said that she was leaving him. Weinstein and Chapman married in 2007 and have two children.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.