Rape Claims Arise In The Weinstein Scandal

The Harvey Weinstein scandal that has dominated entertainment news since Friday has taken an even darker turn as the former movie mogul has now been accused of rape by three different women.

The ball got rolling on this whole saga with The New York Times piece on Thursday last week in which eight women detailed their alleged inappropriate interactions with Weinstein. On Friday came the news of the now infamous ‘wank into a potted plant’ story from the understandably horrified reporter forced to witness the incident a decade ago.

On Sunday Weinstein was fired from his position at the Weinstein Company, and one-third of the board of directors also resigned from their positions in support of the victims.

In the press, The Wrap founder Sharon Waxman claimed that, while working for The New York Times in 2004, she got the go ahead to look into the oft-repeated allegations of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct. She began working on the story which tied back to Italian Miramax exec Fabrizio Lombardo who allegedly catered for Harvey’s needs with women at the time.

She says the article was eventually “gutted” after “intense pressure” from Weinstein and that both Matt Damon and Russell Crowe called her directly to vouch for Lombardo’s character. The Times has refuted the claim about killing the article, while Damon confirms he did call Waxman but denies any knowledge of the story she was writing beyond it being a ‘negative’ one. He also says he made no attempt to kill the article and Waxman has since endorsed his statement.

On Tuesday, Ronan Farrow published a piece in The New Yorker which reported that 13 women alleged they were sexually harassed or assaulted by Weinstein with three of them – actresses Asia Argento, Lucia Evans, and one woman who remained anonymous – accusing the former studio head of rape. Argento says that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 1997, while Evans says she was forced to perform oral sex on him in 2004.

Four of those thirteen cited encounters in which Weinstein exposed himself or masturbated in front of them. An additional sixteen former and current executives and assistants at Weinstein’s companies told the outlet that they witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching at events associated with Weinstein’s films and in the workplace.

Everyone involved was frightened of retaliation as his associates confronted and intimidated those who crossed him. Actresses including Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette say they suspected that Weinstein had them removed from projects or dissuaded people from hiring them.

A spokesperson for Weinstein issued a statement in response to the allegations saying “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied” and “there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances”.

Also on Tuesday, a follow-up piece in The New York Times recealed Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie were among the women who allege Weinstein harassed them. Jolie says: “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. This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.”

Various actors are now issuing statements including Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Benedict Cumberbatch, Heather Graham, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, director Ryan Coogler, current Disney chief Bob Iger and former Disney chief Michael Eisner, and Barack and Michelle Obama. Rose McGowan, one of the key actresses in the middle of this, hit back at former co-star Affleck’s statement.

Additionally Weinstein’s wife, Marchesa fashion designer Georgina Chapman, has issued a statement saying she has chosen to leave her husband. The Weinstein Company is currently undergoing a process to change its name, and are continuing an internal investigation into the allegations.