Current Hot Topic for November 2017
Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories
Kate Beckinsale, Lysette Anthony and Gwyneth Paltrow are among dozens of women who have come forward with allegations ranging from rape to sexual harassment by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Together, the claims build up a picture of one of the most powerful men in the industry exerting pressure on younger women at the start of their careers, often in hotel rooms and offices.
Lucia Evans encountered Weinstein in 2004 when she was an aspiring actress: “It feels like a very streamlined process. Female casting director explains Harvey wants to meet. Everything was designed to make me feel comfortable before it happened. And then the shame in what happened was also designed to keep me quiet.”
Multiple allegations recounted similar details: meetings and professional events moved to hotel rooms, bathrobes and massage requests, and, in some cases, forced oral sex.
“It’s a pretty clear case of sexual harassment when your superior, the CEO, asks one of their inferiors, a temp, to have sex with them, essentially in exchange for mentorship.” Emily Nestor, a temporary front desk assistant, recalled refusing his advances at least a dozen times. “’No’ did not mean ‘no’ to him,” she said. “I was very aware of how inappropriate it was. But I felt trapped.”
Kate Beckinsale was 17 when she was first called to meet Weinstein at the Savoy Hotel. She was surprised to be sent to hotel room not a meeting room, where he greeted her in his bathrobe. “I was incredibly naive and young and it did not cross my mind that this older, unattractive man would expect me to have any sexual interest in him. After declining alcohol and announcing that I had school in the morning I left, uneasy but unscathed. A few years later he asked me if he had tried anything with me in that first meeting. I realised he couldn’t remember if he had assaulted me or not.”
Several former employees have been speaking out about Weinstein’s alleged behaviour now because they hope to protect women in the future. An executive who worked for Weinstein for many years explained, “This wasn’t a one-off. This wasn’t a period of time. This was ongoing predatory behaviour toward women – whether they consented or not.”
For more than twenty years, Weinstein has been trailed by rumours of sexual harassment and assault. His behaviour has been an open secret to many in Hollywood and beyond, but previous attempts by publications, to investigate and publish the story 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, payoffs, and legal threats to suppress their accounts.
In a statement on Oct. 10, his spokeswoman, Sallie Hofmeister, said: “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. He will not be available for further comments, as he is taking the time to focus on his family, on getting counseling and rebuilding his life.”