The stakes have been raised for the Weinstein Company now that Harvey Weinstein has been accused of rape. In the New Yorker this morning, Ronan Farrow published a piece that lays out a survey of the stories of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, who are telling stories ranging from sexual harassment to overtures to outright sexual assault and rape, as there is finally an environment where they feel they will be believed. Some of the tales of assault and rape are said to have happened three decades ago at a time when the victims thought their career would have been crushed.
Reporter Ronan Farrow conducted a 10-month investigation where he cataloged what 13 alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein had to say. In addition to the sexual harassment, which he has copped to, Harvey Weinstein has now been accused of rape. Weinstein touched the careers of many women in front of and behind that camera when he co-founded Miramax and the Weinstein Company, which produced countless big-name films.
Sadly, stories of unwanted attention, contact, and now rape at the hands of Harvey Weinstein have been a whispered legend throughout the industry, but over two dozen victims no longer want to stay silent. Reportedly, even more victims are gagged by non-disclosure agreements, but the stories being shared are chilling and disheartening.
Asia Argento, an Italian actress and director, has only spoken to Ronan Farrow about her story of sexual assault (she says that Harvey Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her) because of the fear that Weinstein would “crush” her.
“I know he has crushed a lot of people before. That’s why this story—in my case, it’s twenty years old; some of them are older—has never come out.”
The fear that speaking out or telling authorities about their assaults would immediately end their careers seemed to be on the minds of all of the victims who spoke to Farrow.
“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.”
But it gets worse, as evidence has existed for years that this behavior was commonplace for Harvey Weinstein. In 2015, the New York Police Department conducted a sting operation targeting Weinstein. In an audio recording, Weinstein admits to groping model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, saying that the behavior is what he is “used to” when dealing with women. Many of the women interviewed by Ronan Farrow claim that Harvey Weinstein exposed himself to them or masturbated in front of them.
Fear of retaliation by Harvey Weinstein seems to be the main reason that alleged assaults were not reported at the time they happened. A former Weinstein employee said that she thought that telling anyone about Harvey Weinstein’s behavior would be career shattering.
“If Harvey were to discover my identity, I’m worried that he could ruin my life.”
Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette both suspected that they had been removed from projects after rejecting Harvey Weinstein because they both spoke out. Farrow said that several sources told him that Harvey Weinstein boasted about planting items in the media about women who rejected him.
Sallie Hofmeister, a spokesperson for Harvey Weinstein, has issued a statement in response to these new accusations of assault and rape.
“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. Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.”
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It is unclear whether Harvey Weinstein will add Ronan Farrow and the New Yorker to the list of people and publications he plans to sue now that more and more stories are coming out, including the new accusation of rape. But while many of the accusers in Farrow’s article are relatively unknown, more women with big household names are now telling their stories. Gwyneth Paltrow, who at one time would be pictured as the “First Lady of Miramax” in her pink dress clutching her Oscar, now says that her path to success included a run-in with Harvey Weinstein at the Peninsula hotel.
Before she started shooting the movie Emma, her first big role, Harvey Weinstein asked her to meet him in his hotel room. Once there, Paltrow says that Weinstein “put his hands on her” and suggested “massages in the bedroom.”
“I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified. I thought he was going to fire me.”
Gwyneth Paltrow told her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt, who confronted Weinstein. Harvey Weinstein then told her not to tell anyone else.
“He screamed at me for a long time. It was brutal.”
Angelina Jolie tells a similar story and says that after her encounter with Harvey Weinstein, early in her career, she swore she would never work with him again.
“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.”
It is unclear whether any of the new reports of rape against Harvey Weinstein are within the statute of limitations for filing charges, but Weinstein and the Weinstein Company are both likely vulnerable to legal action in a civil court.
Do you believe the new charges of rape against Harvey Weinstein? Why do you think these women didn’t speak out sooner?
[Featured Image by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images]