On Thursday, the New York Times published an extensive report recounting decades of sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, many of which he has denied as "patently false" via a statement from his lawyer to the Times. Details are still unfolding, which means exactly how many women are accusing Weinstein is difficult to quantify at this time.
While it's unclear how many women the Times interviewed in total, they note that, according to two company officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, while dozens of his former and current employees said they knew of inappropriate conduct while working for him. In response to the allegations, Weinstein released a statement saying he was working with therapists and planned to take a leave of absence from his company to “deal with this issue head on.” He continued:
“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.”
The Hollywood Reporter also announced that Weinstein plans to sue the New York Times, according to a statement from his lawyer Charles Harder. Harder claimed the story was "saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein."
Meanwhile, Weinstein's lawyer Lisa Bloom shared the following statement with Bustle, which included:
"Harvey Weinstein and I have had many wide ranging conversations over the last year about rumors and allegations against him. He denies many of the accusations as patently false. Nevertheless, I have explained to him that due to the power difference between a major studio head like him and most others in the industry, whatever his motives, some of his words and behaviors can be perceived as inappropriate, even intimidating."
Bloom also added, "He is going to use this as a painful learning experience to grow into a better man. I will continue to work with him personally for as long as it takes."
According to the Times, the accusations against Weinstein span three decades, and include women who range in age from their early 20s to late 40s and live in different cities. In interviews with the outlet, eight women claimed Weinstein had propositioned them to varying degrees: allegedly appearing nearly or fully naked in front of them, requiring them to be present while he bathed, or repeatedly asking for a massage or initiating one himself. (Weinstein has not addressed these specific claims in his statement.)
The Times went on to report that, in March 2015, Italian model Ambra Battilana called the police within hours of visiting Weinstein at his TriBeCa office to discuss her career, alleging that he grabbed her breasts and allegedly put his hands up her skirt. These claims were reportedly taken up by the New York Police Department’s Special Victims Squad, and the Manhattan district attorney’s office later declined to bring charges. Undisclosed sources told the Times that Weinstein made a payment to Battilana; Battilana did not respond to the Times’ request for comment.
Also among the recipients of Weinstein’s settlements, according to the Times, were a young assistant in New York in 1990, actor Rose McGowan (Charmed) in 1997, an assistant in London in 1998, and Lauren O’Connor, whose 2015 memo detailing her own and other women’s allegations served as the basis for much of the Times’ report. In comments to the publication earlier this week, Weinstein said that many claims in O’Connor’s memo were “off base” and that they parted on good terms; O’Connor declined to be interviewed by the Times via her lawyer.
According to a document obtained by the Times, 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. Meanwhile, most of the women who accepted payouts reportedly agreed to confidentiality clauses prohibiting them from speaking about the details of their settlements or the events leading up to them.
Based on what’s known so far, it’s a muddled and complex case, and one that will likely only get thornier, but however many women are involved, it’s one that demands thorough attention.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.