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.”

How Fox News Women Took Down Roger Ailes

Gabriel Sherman, How Fox News Women Took Down Roger Ailes. New York Magazine, 2 September 2016. “It took 15 days to end the mighty 20-year reign of Roger Ailes at Fox News, one of the most storied runs in media and political history. Ailes built not just a conservative cable news channel but something like a fourth branch of government; a propaganda arm for the GOP; an organization that determined Republican presidential candidates, sold wars, and decided the issues of the day for 2 million viewers. That the place turned out to be rife with grotesque abuses of power has left even its liberal critics stunned. More than two dozen women have come forward to accuse Ailes of sexual harassment, and what they have exposed is both a culture of misogyny and one of corruption and surveillance, smear campaigns and hush money, with implications reaching far wider than one disturbed man at the top.”

Update: Sarah Ellison, Fox Settles With Gretchen Carlson for $20 Million–and Offers an Unprecedented Apology. Vanity Fair, 6 September 2016.

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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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QUACKS: ‘Conversion Therapists,’ the Anti-LGBT Right, and the Demonization of Homosexuality

Mark Potok, QUACKS: ‘Conversion Therapists,’ the Anti-LGBT Right, and the Demonization of Homosexuality. Southern Poverty Law Center, 25 May 2016. “Will standing in a circle of naked men deep in the woods turn gay men straight? Is disrobing in front of a mirror alone with your therapist and then touching “your masculinity” a cure for homosexuality? Does beating a pillow representing your mother really help develop “healthy” relationships with other men? The men and women who people this industry known as “conversion,” “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapists are like modern-day phrenologists, the “experts” beloved by the Nazis who thought they could identify inferior human beings by measuring their subjects’ skulls. They employ theories that have been thoroughly debunked by virtually all relevant medical associations. They cite bizarre studies that were shot down decades ago as key documents. They use techniques that were described in court by one expert as “worse than snake oil.” They are quacks…. The real science is perfectly clear. A consensus of the vast majority of psychiatrists, psychologists and other counselors and their professional organizations agree that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality. Likewise, they condemn reparative therapy and other attempts to change sexual orientation. This report is built around revelations that emerged from a lawsuit that was tried in New Jersey last year [2015]. Represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and other attorneys, several gay plaintiffs sued Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, or JONAH (formerly Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality), under a state consumer fraud law.”

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Private schools, painful secrets

Jenn Abelson, Bella English, Jonathan Saltzman, and Todd Wallack, with editors Scott Allen and Amanda Katz, Private schools, painful secrets. The Boston Globe, 6 May 2016. “More than 200 victims. At least 90 legal claims. At least 67 private schools in New England. This is the story of hundreds of students sexually abused by staffers, and emerging from decades of silence today.”

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Madness: In Florida prisons, mentally ill inmates have been tortured, driven to suicide, and killed by guards

Eyal Press, Madness: In Florida prisons, mentally ill inmates have been tortured, driven to suicide, and killed by guards. The New Yorker, 2 May 2016. Eyal Press won the “June [2016] Sidney Award for exposing horrific abuses of mentally ill prisoners in the Transitional Care Unit of the Dade Correctional Institution (DCI) in Florida for the New Yorker. Press’ reporting showed that TCU inmates were routinely subjected to physical and sexual abuse at the hands of prison guards. Several prisoners were scalded with steaming water from a hose. One such treatment proved fatal, burning the inmate so badly that the skin peeled off his corpse at the slightest touch. Psychiatrists and technicians who tried to report the abuses also faced retaliation from the guards. After questioning restrictive policies, one psychiatric technician was repeatedly abandoned by guards to face dangerous patients alone. ‘The result was pervasive, lethal abuse: inmates beaten, tortured and killed, sometimes directly in front of health care professionals, who then pretended they saw nothing,’ said Press in an interview for Hillman’s Backstory feature. ‘Much of what takes place in jails and prisons is veiled from scrutiny, which makes abuse and corruption more likely.'”

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The List: Juveniles and the Sex Offender Registry

Sarah Stillman, The List. The New Yorker, 14 March 2016. “When juveniles are found guilty of sexual misconduct, the sex-offender registry can be a life sentence.” When juveniles are charged with and found guilty of sexual misconduct, should they be on the registry of sex-offenders for decades?

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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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