Apart from sexually harassing employees, associates and actors over several years, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has now been accused of raping three women, including actor Asia Argento, according to the New Yorker.
The report follows the New York Times expose of numerous sexual harassment complaints against Weinstein over two decades, some of which he squashed through non-disclosure agreements. “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,” the New Yorker report says.
The crimes are alleged to have taken place since the late 1990s. “Four women said that they experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault,” the New Yorker report says. “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.””
Argento reproduced her experience in the 2000 movie Scarlet Diva, which she wrote and directed. “After the movie came out, women began approaching Argento, saying that they recognized Weinstein’s behavior in the portrayal,” the New Yorker reported. “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.
Meanwhile, the New York Times carried interviews with Gywneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Rosanna Arquette, all of whom said that Weinstein had sexually harassed them when they were younger and setting out in Hollywood. “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,” Jolie told the New York Times in an email. “This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.”
After the publication of the initial New York Times report, the maverick producer was fired from The Weinstein Company, which he co-founded with his brother Bob in 2005, and four board members resigned. The Weinstein Company itself might be renamed, and Harvey Weinstein’s name will be taken off all TV series he has produced, according to a Deadline report, including Project Runway, Six, Scream, Waco, and The Romanoffs.
In response to the New Yorker story, Weinstein’s spokesperson issued a statement denying “non-consensual sex” and asserted that “Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances”.
The sensational investigation comes after a report in The Wrap by veteran Hollywood tracker Sharon Waxman, which claimed that New York Times had killed a story in 2014 about sexual misconduct by Weinstein.
Five days after the allegations broke, Democrat leader Hillary Clinton finally spoke out against Weinstein. “The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated,” Clinton said. Weinstein has been a major donor to the Democratic Party.
Many more Hollywood personalities too have belatedly spoken out. George Clooney declared that Weinstein’s behaviour was “indefensible” while stating that he had never witnessed predatory behaviour by the producer.
Jennifer Lawrence, who starred in The Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook, said, “”I worked with Harvey five years ago and I did not experience any form of harassment personally, nor did I know about any of these allegations. This kind of abuse is inexcusable and absolutely upsetting.”