From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Hollywood Producer Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories

Ronan Farrow, From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Hollywood Producer Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories. The New Yorker, 10 October 2017. “Since the establishment of the first studios a century ago, there have been few movie executives as dominant, or as domineering, as Harvey Weinstein. As the co-founder of the production-and-distribution companies Miramax and the Weinstein Company, he helped to reinvent the model for independent films, with movies such as ‘Sex, Lies, and Videotape,’ ‘The English Patient,’ ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘The Crying Game,’ ‘Shakespeare in Love,’ and ‘The King’s Speech.’ Beyond Hollywood, he has exercised his influence as a prolific fund-raiser for Democratic Party candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Weinstein combined a keen eye for promising scripts, directors, and actors with a bullying, even threatening, style of doing business, inspiring both fear and gratitude. His movies have earned more than three hundred Oscar nominations, and, at the annual awards ceremonies, he has been thanked more than almost anyone else in movie history, just after Steven Spielberg and right before God. For more than twenty years, Weinstein has also been trailed by rumors of sexual harassment and assault. This has been an open secret to many in Hollywood and beyond, but 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. Too few people were willing to speak, much less allow a reporter to use their names, and Weinstein and his associates used nondisclosure agreements, monetary payoffs, and legal threats to suppress these myriad stories. Asia Argento, an Italian film actress and director, told me that she did not speak out until now—Weinstein, she told me, forcibly performed oral sex on her—because she feared that Weinstein would ‘crush’ her. ‘I know he has crushed a lot of people before,’ Argento said. ‘That’s why this story—in my case, it’s twenty years old; some of them are older—has never come out.’ Last week, the New York Times, in a powerful report by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, revealed multiple allegations of sexual harassment against Weinstein, a story that led to the resignation of four members of his company’s all-male board, and to Weinstein’s firing from the company. The story, however, is more complex, and there is more to know and to understand. In the course of a ten-month investigation, I was told by thirteen women that, between the nineteen-nineties and 2015, Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them, allegations that corroborate and overlap with the Times’ revelations, and also include far more serious claims. Three women—among them 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. Sixteen former and current executives and assistants at Weinstein’s companies told me that they witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching at events associated with Weinstein’s films and in the workplace. They and others describe a pattern of professional meetings that were little more than thin pretexts for sexual advances on young actresses and models. All sixteen said that the behavior was widely known within both Miramax and the Weinstein Company…. Virtually all of the people I spoke with told me that they were frightened of retaliation…. Several former employees told me that they were speaking about Weinstein’s alleged behavior now because they hoped to protect women in the future…. It’s likely that women have recently felt increasingly emboldened to talk about their experiences because of the way the world has changed regarding issues of sex and power. These disclosures follow in the wake of stories alleging sexual misconduct by public figures, including Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, and Donald Trump…. While Weinstein and his representatives have said that the incidents were consensual, and were not widespread or severe, the women I spoke to tell a very different story…. Weinstein’s behavior deeply affected the day-to-day operations of his company. Current and former Weinstein employees described a pattern of meetings and strained complicity that closely matches the accounts of the many women I interviewed. The employees spoke on condition of anonymity, they said, because of fears about their careers in Hollywood and because of provisos in their work contracts…. Weinstein and his legal and public-relations teams have conducted a decades-long campaign to suppress these stories. In recent months, that campaign escalated.”

Hollywood Producer Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades

Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, Hollywood Producer Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades. The New York Times, 5 October 2017. “An investigation by The New York Times found previously undisclosed allegations against [Hollywood producer] Mr. [Harvey] Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades, 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. During that time, after being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact, Mr. Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, according to two company officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. Among the recipients, The Times found, were a young assistant in New York in 1990, an actress in 1997, an assistant in London in 1998, an Italian model in 2015 and Ms. O’Connor shortly after, according to records and those familiar with the agreements. In a statement to The Times on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Weinstein said: ‘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 added that he was working with therapists and planning to take a leave of absence to ‘deal with this issue head on.’… Dozens of Mr. Weinstein’s former and current employees, from assistants to top executives, said they knew of inappropriate conduct while they worked for him. Only a handful said they ever confronted him. Mr. Weinstein enforced a code of silence; employees of the Weinstein Company have contracts saying they will not criticize it or its leaders in a way that could harm its ‘business reputation’ or ‘any employee’s personal reputation,’ a recent document shows. And most of the women accepting payouts agreed to confidentiality clauses prohibiting them from speaking about the deals or the events that led to them…. Most women who told The Times that they experienced misconduct by Mr. Weinstein had never met one another. They range in age from early 20s to late 40s and live in different cities. Some said they did not report the behavior because there were no witnesses and they feared retaliation by Mr. Weinstein. Others said they felt embarrassed. But most confided in co-workers.”

Statement from Harvey Weinstein, The New York Times, 5 October 2017. “Harvey Weinstein sent The Times … [a] statement in response to our story about his treatment of women in Hollywood. (Read the original investigation.) In the article’s aftermath, actresses spoke out, politicians distanced themselves and an adviser called his behavior ‘gross.'”

Update: Harvey Weinstein Is Fired After Sexual harassment Reports. Megan Twohey, . The New York Times, 8 October 2017. “The Weinstein Company fired its co-founder Harvey Weinstein on Sunday, after a New York Times investigation uncovered allegations that he had engaged in rampant sexual harassment, dealing a stunning blow to a producer known for shaping American film and championing liberal causes. The statement announcing the firing said the decision had been made ‘in light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days.’ In an interview, Lance Maerov, one of the company’s four board members, said it had been brought to their attention that Mr. Weinstein had violated the company’s code of conduct at some point in the past week, but he would not specify what the violation was. Mr. Maerov said Mr. Weinstein had been notified of his termination by email Sunday evening. The action was taken by Mr. Maerov, Bob Weinstein (Mr. Weinstein’s brother), Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar. A fifth board member, Paul Tudor Jones, resigned on Saturday. The firing was an escalation from Friday, when one-third of the company’s all-male board resigned and four members who remained announced that Mr. Weinstein would take a leave of absence while an outside lawyer investigated the allegations.”

Innocents: El Salvador, where pregnant women have more to fear than Zika

Rachel Nolan, Innocents. Harper’s, October 2016. “There are six countries in the world that prohibit abortion under all circumstances, without exceptions for victims of rape or incest or for cases in which the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother: El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Nicaragua, Malta, and Vatican City. In the United States, even the most fervent antiabortion groups maintain that women who have abortions are victims, instead directing their attacks at doctors. Earlier this year, when Donald Trump suggested that if Roe v. Wade were reversed, women who choose to terminate a pregnancy should be subject to “some form of punishment,” he was denounced across the political spectrum.

That scenario already exists in El Salvador, a country of 6.3 million, where an active medical and law-enforcement system finds and tries women who are suspected of having had abortions. Public prosecutors visit hospitals to train gynecologists and obstetricians to detect and report patients who show “symptoms of abortion.” Doctors are legally obligated to be informants for the police.”

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A blind eye to sex abuse: How USA Gymnastics failed to report cases

Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia, and Tim Evans, A blind eye to sex abuse: How USA Gymnastics failed to report cases. IndyStar, 4 August 2016. “USA Gymnastics has failed to report to police many allegations of sexual misconduct by coaches. That allowed predatory coaches to continue working with children for years after the organization was warned.”

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My four months as a private prison guard

Shane Bauer, My four months as a private prison guard. Mother Jones, July/August 2016. David Uberti writes in Columbia Journalism Review that Shane Bauer’s exposé of the conditions at Winn Correctional Center, a private prison in Louisiana, “confirms many of our worst fears about the private prison industry. Corporate hunger for profits led to a woeful lack of resources in the cell blocks that Bauer patrolled. Inmates lived in squalor and were denied health care for serious sickness. Prison officials resorted to the use of force in lieu of proper staffing. Low wages begat a constant turnover among employees. It was a bad dream for prison guards like Bauer and a hopeless nightmare for the men behind bars.”

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Missing and Murdered: The Trafficked (in Canada)

Tavia Grant, Missing and Murdered: The Trafficked. The Globe and Mail, 10 February 2016. “Indigenous women and girls are being exploited by gangs and other predators with little being done to stop it. Missing and Murdered: The Trafficked: The story behind our investigation into the exploitation of indigenous women and girls, by Tavia Grant, 10 February 2016: “The Trafficked project sprang from an ongoing Globe and Mail investigation into missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. In the course of that reporting, the issue of human trafficking surfaced as a factor that puts some aboriginal women at even greater risk of disappearing or being killed. The Globe and Mail spent three months investigating the subject, dedicating one reporter full-time to delve into who the victims are, how the crime is committed, what the long-term impact is and how the federal government has responded.”

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An Unbelievable Story of Rape

Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller, An Unbelievable Story of Rape. The Marshall Project (Ken Armstrong) and ProPublica (T. Christian Miller), 16 December 2015. An 18-year-old said she was attacked at knifepoint. Then she said she made it up. That’s where our story begins.” “‘An Unbelievable Story of Rape’ is the account of a failed police investigation and the trail of hurt and humiliation that followed. This 12,000-word piece tells the story of a young woman who reported being raped at knifepoint in her apartment, only to be disbelieved by police, and later prosecuted for lying to the authorities. Years later, two relentless female detectives in Colorado arrested a man suspected of raping a series of women and discovered that the original victim was telling the truth all along.”

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting.

Winner of the 2015 George Polk Award for Justice Reporting.

 

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How Killing Elephants Finances Terror in Africa

Bryan Christy, How Killing Elephants Finances Terror in Africa. National Geographic, 12 August 2015. “…[T]he African elephant is under siege. A booming Chinese middle class with an insatiable taste for ivory, crippling poverty in Africa, weak and corrupt law enforcement, and more ways than ever to kill an elephant have created a perfect storm. The result: Some 30,000 African elephants are slaughtered every year, more than 100,000 between 2010 and 2012, and the pace of killing is not slowing. Most illegal ivory goes to China, where a pair of ivory chopsticks can bring more than a thousand dollars and carved tusks sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Update: Paul Steyn, African Elephant Numbers Plummet 30 Percent, Landmark Survey Finds. National Geographic, 31 August 2016. “An unprecedented census gives a sobering baseline for managing what’s left of Africa’s elephants.” The finding of the Great Elephant Census, a continent-wide wildlife survey, is worrying: “Africa now has 352,271 savanna elephants left in 93 percent of the species’ range. The aerial survey covered 18 African countries. In 15 of those, where information on previous populations existed, 144,000 elephants were lost to ivory poaching and habitat destruction in less than a decade. The current yearly loss—overwhelmingly from poaching—is estimated at 8 percent. That’s about 27,000 elephants slaughtered year after year…. The census was funded by Microsoft founder Paul G. Allen and took just under three years to complete. Led by the nonprofit Elephants Without Borders, which is based in Botswana, the survey involved a team of 90 scientists, six NGOs, and two advisory partners: the Kenya-based conservation organization Save the Elephants and the African Elephant Specialist Group, made up of experts who focus on the conservation and management of African elephants.”

Update: Edward Wong and Jeffrey Gettleman, China Bans Its Ivory Trade, Moving Against Elephant Poaching. The New York Times, 30 December 2016. China announced on Friday that it was banning all commerce in ivory by the end of 2017, a move that would shut down the world’s largest ivory market and could deal a critical blow to the practice of elephant poaching in Africa.”

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‘I’m No Longer Afraid’: 35 Women Tell Their Stories About Being Assaulted by Bill Cosby

Noreen Malone and Amanda Demme, ‘I’m No Longer Afraid:’ 35 Women Tell Their Stories About Being Assaulted by Bill Cosby, and the Culture That Wouldn’t Listen. New York Magazine, 27 July 2015. “More has changed in the past few years for women who allege rape than in all the decades since the women’s movement began. Consider the evidence of October 2014, when a Philadelphia magazine reporter at a Hannibal Buress show uploaded a clip of the comedian talking about Bill Cosby: “He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up, black people … I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom.’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches … I guess I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns. Dude’s image, for the most part, it’s fucking public Teflon image. I’ve done this bit onstage and people think I’m making it up … That shit is upsetting.” The bit went viral swiftly, with irreversible, calamitous consequences for Cosby’s reputation.”

Winner of the 2015 George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting.

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