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Weinstein executives describe ‘culture of complicity’ at the company

13 October 2017 12:47 AM
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Weinstein executives describe ‘culture of complicity’ at the company

CLAIMS against Harvey Weinstein have one disturbing aspect in common. Now staff have revealed how they were forced to aid his behaviour.

In some of the hotel rooms around the world where actresses claimed they were propositioned or harassed, an agent or assistant was also there, only to disappear at a critical moment before Weinstein would make his alleged move.

It was described by New Zealand model Zoe Brock, who wrote how Weinstein and his assistant, Ben Silverman “never left my side” in Cannes in 1997 when she was “Harveyed”.

She said the gang were partying with others until cars separated and the “energy shifted”. She asked Ben to contact her friends and he left to call them.

“And suddenly I was alone in a remote hotel suite with Harvey f**king Weinstein,” she wrote. After she refused to give him a massage, she said Silverman returned looking “ashen and uncomfortable”.

“He couldn’t meet my eye. I had really liked him too. I felt so betrayed and used,” she said, adding that she suspects her agent was “in on the ruse”.

“My instincts tell me he was,” she wrote. “Every time I tell it I’m disgusted, all over again, at the insidious ‘bro-codes’ that many men subscribe to. A code that says it’s OK to enable your friends and employers to intimidate, threaten and manipulate women into sexual situations against their will.”

A similar situation was described by Cara Delevingne this week who revealed she was told to go to Weinstein’s hotel room by an assistant, despite feeling uncomfortable about it.

“When I arrived I was relieved to find another woman in his room and thought immediately I was safe,” she wrote on Instagram.

“He asked us to kiss and she began some sort of advances upon his direction. I swiftly got up and asked him if he knew that I could sing,” she said, adding that she dodged a kiss on the way out as well.

French Bond actress Lea Seydoux said the nature of the open secret is the “most disgusting thing” about the mounting allegations.

“Everyone knew what Harvey was up to and no one did anything,” she told The Guardian while recounting her own experience. “It’s unbelievable that he’s been able to act like this for decades and still keep his career. That’s only possible because he has a huge amount of power.”

The “culture of complicity” at the Weinstein company is something 16 current and former executives who said they had witnessed or knew about unwanted sexual advances described to The New Yorker this week.

The paper wrote employees “describe a pattern of professional meetings that were little more than thin pretexts for sexual advances on young actresses and models.”

Some workers claimed they had been “enlisted in subterfuge to make the victims feel safe”.

“A female executive with the company described how Weinstein assistants and others served as a ‘honey pot’ — they would initially join a meeting, but then Weinstein would dismiss them, leaving him alone with the woman,” Ronan Farrow reported.

It comes as more Hollywood players step forward to claim they had been subject to Weinstein’s unwelcome advances. Three women have accused him of rape, with another four claiming he masturbated or exposed himself in front of them.

Overnight, Weinstein spoke publicly for the first time since the accusations came to light, telling reporters outside his daughter Remy’s Los Angeles home: “Guys, I’m not doing OK but I’m trying. I got to get help. You know what, we all make mistakes. ... A second chance, I hope.”

Weinstein’s spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister has also said: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein.

“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 counselling, 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.”

The movie mogul previously admitted he would try to “conquer my demons” and would work with therapists to “deal with this issue head on” in a statement to The New York Times.

“I realised some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed,” he said.

“I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologise for it.”

Weinstein has been fired by the board of his company, The Weinstein Company, which plans to change its name.

In a statement on Tuesday night, the four-member board of directors strongly denied that it knew about Weinstein’s behaviour.

“These alleged actions are antithetical to human decency. These allegations come as an utter surprise to the board. Any suggestion that the board had knowledge of this conduct is false,” the statement said.

“We are committed to assisting with our full energies in all criminal or other investigations of these alleged acts, while pursuing justice for the victims and a full and independent investigation of our own.”

However, legal experts are sceptical the company could have been unaware given the volume of allegations.

“Given all the information that’s coming out now, I would find it highly implausible that the board was not aware,” said Angela Reddock-Wright, who specialises in employment law.


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