Harvey Weinstein is taking a leave of absence from The Weinstein Company film studio after The New York Times published an extensive report detailing decades of sexual harassment allegations against him.
“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,” the Oscar winner, 65, wrote in a lengthy statement on Thursday, October 5. “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. 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. That is my commitment.”
Weinstein went on to explain that he will be working with a team of therapists, assembled by his attorney Lisa Bloom, to “learn about myself” and “conquer my demons.”
He is also preparing a lawsuit. “The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein,” Charles Harder, another attorney representing the executive, tells Us Weekly. “It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by nine different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.”
The Times‘ blistering report, which was published earlier on Thursday, claimed Weinstein has been accused of sexually harassing women in the film industry for nearly three decades and that he has reached legal settlements between $80,000 and $150,000 with at least eight women. The investigation was documented through “interviews with current and former employees and film industry workers, as well as legal records, emails and internal documents from the businesses he has run, Miramax and The Weinstein Company.”
Ashley Judd spoke on the record to the newspaper, claiming that the Shakespeare in Love producer summoned her to his room at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel two decades ago and greeted her in a bathrobe. He then allegedly asked if he could give the actress, now 49, a massage or if she wanted to watch him take a shower. “How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” she recalled thinking.
The accusations were made as recently as 2015, when Weinstein allegedly badgered a female assistant into giving him a massage while he was naked, leaving her “crying and distraught,” according to Lauren O’Connor, a colleague who described the alleged encounter in a memo to the Times.
Bloom said in a statement to the paper that her client “denies many of the accusations as patently false.” He and his representatives declined to comment on the reported settlements.
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