This story was first published on newyorker. The version below appears in the October 23, , issue. Since the establishment of the first studios, a century ago, there have been few movie executives as dominant, or as domineering, as Harvey Weinstein. 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, ranking just after Steven Spielberg and right before God.
For more than twenty years, Weinstein, who is now sixty-five, has also been trailed by rumors of sexual harassment and assault. His behavior 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, payoffs, and legal threats to suppress their accounts.
The story, however, is 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 , Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them. Three of the women—among them Argento and a former aspiring actress named Lucia Evans—told me that Weinstein had raped them, forcibly performing or receiving oral sex or forcing vaginal sex. Four women said that they had experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault.
They and others described 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. Some employees said that they were enlisted in a subterfuge to make the victims feel safe. Any suggestion that the Board had knowledge of this conduct is false.
Virtually all of the people I spoke with told me that they were frightened of retaliation. Multiple sources said that Weinstein frequently bragged about planting items in media outlets about those who spoke against him; these sources feared similar retribution. You can do anything. Ailes, the former head of Fox News, resigned in July, , after he was accused of sexual harassment.
Cosby went on trial this summer, charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman. The trial ended with a hung jury. I know a lot of people would like me to go into a facility, and I may well just do that—I will go anywhere I can learn more about myself. Sallie Hofmeister, a spokesperson for Weinstein, issued a new statement in response to the allegations detailed here.
Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.
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. Evans, who is now a marketing consultant, wanted to be an actress, and although she had heard rumors about Weinstein she let him have her number. Weinstein began calling her late at night, or having an assistant call her, asking to meet.
She declined, but said that she would do readings during the day for a casting executive. Before long, an assistant called to set up a daytime meeting at the Miramax office in Tribeca, first with Weinstein and then with a casting executive, who was a woman. When Evans arrived for the meeting, the building was full of people. She was led to an office with exercise equipment in it, and takeout boxes on the floor.
Weinstein was there, alone. Evans said that she found him frightening. He also told her about two scripts, a horror movie and a teen love story, and said one of his associates would discuss them with her. He overpowered me. Weinstein appeared to find the encounter unremarkable. Following the encounter, she met with the female casting executive, who sent her the scripts, and also came to one of her acting-class readings a few weeks later.
Weinstein, Evans said, began calling her again late at night. She told me that the entire sequence of events had a routine quality. 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. I was disgusted with myself. My schoolwork definitely suffered, and my roommates told me to go to a therapist because they thought I was going to kill myself.
In the years that followed, Evans encountered Weinstein occasionally. Once, while she was walking her dog in Greenwich Village, she saw him getting into a car. I was so horrified. I have nightmares about him to this day. The distributor was Miramax. In a series of long and often emotional interviews, Argento told me that Weinstein assaulted her while they were working together.
At the time, Argento was twenty-one and had twice won the Italian equivalent of the Oscar. Argento felt professionally obliged to attend. The producer denies bringing Argento to the room that night. At first, Weinstein was solicitous, praising her work. Then he left the room. When he returned, he was wearing a bathrobe and holding a bottle of lotion. And I am still trying to come to grips with what happened. Argento said that, after she reluctantly agreed to give Weinstein a massage, he pulled her skirt up, forced her legs apart, and performed oral sex on her as she repeatedly told him to stop.
It was a nightmare. At some point, she stopped saying no and feigned enjoyment, because she thought it was the only way the assault would end. A big fat man wanting to eat you. And so I felt responsible. He said he would put the phrase on a T-shirt. Weinstein dined with her, and introduced her to his mother. Years later, when she was a single mother dealing with childcare, Weinstein offered to pay for a nanny. Argento told me that she knew this contact would be used to attack the credibility of her allegation.
In part, she said, the initial assault made her feel overpowered each time she encountered Weinstein, even years later. In the film, a heavyset producer corners Anna, the character played by Argento, in a hotel room, asks her for a massage, and tries to assault her. 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.
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Weinstein, according to Argento, saw the film after it was released in the U. Other women were too afraid to allow me to use their names, but their stories are uncannily similar to these allegations. One, a woman who worked with Weinstein, explained her reluctance to be identified. The woman continued to have professional contact with Weinstein after the alleged rape, and acknowledged that subsequent communications between them might suggest a normal working relationship.
She scrambled for ways to ward him off, telling him that it was against her religion to date married men. At the time, Weinstein was married to Eve Chilton, a former assistant.
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Then she left the room. A few weeks later, in New York City, her phone rang after midnight. It was Weinstein, saying that he had new marketing ideas for the film and asking to get together. Sorvino offered to meet him at an all-night diner, but he said he was coming over to her apartment and hung up. She called a friend and asked him to come over and pose as her boyfriend. Sorvino said that she struggled for years with whether to come forward with her story, partly because she was aware that it was mild compared with the experiences of other women, including Sophie Dix, an actress she spoke to at the time.
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Dix told me that she had locked herself in a hotel bathroom to escape Weinstein, and that he had masturbated in front of her. I must have said no a thousand times. Sorvino said that she felt afraid and intimidated, and that the incidents had a significant impact on her. Weinstein introduced himself to Gutierrez, who was twenty-two, remarking repeatedly that she looked like the actress Mila Kunis.
In the office, she sat with Weinstein on a couch to review the portfolio, and he began staring at her breasts, asking if they were real. He said he would meet her at the show that evening. Save this search so you do not have to select search criteria the next time you are looking for similar jobs.
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