Footage of disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein showing inappropriate behavior toward a businesswoman who has accused him of rape has emerged.
Melissa Thompson recently shared the video that shows the former film producer touching and making sexually suggestive comments toward her when she was at Weinstein’s offices in New York for a meeting in September 2011, in which she was pitching her start-up’s video and analytics service, according to The Independent. She said she recorded the meeting as part of the demonstration, Vanity Fair reported.
The meeting shown in the video took place just hours before the alleged rape, which happened at a nearby hotel, she has said, as per The Independent report.
Weinstein has long claimed that the acts he is being accused of were consensual, and vehemently denied all accusations, from Thompson to the dozens of other women who have come forward to accuse him of assault and harassment.
The video, obtained by Sky News and aired Wednesday night, shows Thompson offering her hand for a handshake when she first entered the office, but Weinstein dismissed her hand and hugged her instead. He then proceeded to rub her back with both hands while he says, “that’s nice, let’s keep it up.”
At this point, Thompson knew she had to be vigilant, she said in an interview published by Sky News along with the footage.
As Thompson began her presentation, Weinstein can be heard asking, “So, am I allowed to flirt with you?”
“Um, we’ll see. A little bit,” Thompson responded. Weinstein then appears to back down.
In the footage, Thompson makes flirtatious remarks, at one point joking to Weinstein, “Data’s so hot, right?”
“It is hot. You’re hot. Let me have a little bit of you. Give it to me. It’s OK, would you like to do it some more?” Weinstein responded. According to Thompson, he then reached under the table. It is not visible in the video, but Thompson contended he was running his hand up her leg under her dress.
“That’s a little high,” she is heard saying.
Then, Weinstein can be seen rubbing Thompson’s arm and shoulder as she explains her company’s services to him.
In the interview, Thompson said she thought it was safer to follow his lead instead of being confrontational. Anticipating potential accusations that she was leading him on and encouraging his behavior, Thompson said that the situation is more complicated, adding that she has worked on Wall Street and has been in male-dominated environments her entire career.
The recording and alleged rape are being used as part of a civil suit against Weinstein. In a statement, Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer Benjamin Brafman denied that the video proves anything other than consensual flirting between the two, The Independent reported.
“What they shared with us is that the video, when viewed in its entirety, in context and not in select excerpts, demonstrates that there is nothing forceful, but casual – if not awkward – flirting from both parties,” Brafman said.