Paltrow, Jolie add to flood of allegations against Weinstein

By: 
The Associated Press

NEW YORK — A flood of allegations poured in Tuesday against Harvey Weinstein in on-the-record reports that detailed claims of sexual abuse and included testimonies from Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, further intensifying the already explosive collapse of the disgraced movie mogul.

Three women accused Weinstein of raping them in a story published online by The New Yorker, including the Italian actress and filmmaker Asia Argento and a woman who was an aspiring actress in college when she caught Weinstein’s eye. A representative for the mogul vehemently denied the allegations in a statement to the magazine.

In a follow-up to its earlier expose, The New York Times also reported Tuesday that many other actresses have in recent days added to the chorus of accusations surrounding Weinstein. Paltrow described Weinstein’s attempt to lure her, then 22, into giving him a massage in a hotel room. The incident prompted her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt to angrily confront Weinstein at a film premiere.

Both reports significantly ratcheted up the unfolding scandal surrounding Weinstein, who was fired Sunday from the Weinstein Co. By the end of Tuesday, former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, an array of movie stars and Weinstein’s own wife, Georgina Chapman, had issued statements condemning Weinstein’s alleged conduct. Chapman told People magazine she was leaving her husband after 10 years of marriage, citing Weinstein’s “unforgivable actions.”

The published stories thoroughly document the systematic harassment, abuse and intimidation of women — almost always young actresses trying to succeed in movies.

Lucia Evans, then a senior at Middlebury College, said Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004 at the Miramax offices in Tribeca. She had been brought in for a casting meeting with Weinstein. Argento said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999. A third woman spoke anonymously.

“I know he has crushed a lot of people before,” Argento told The New Yorker. “That’s why this story — in my case, it’s twenty years old, some of them are older — has never come out.”

Attorneys for Weinstein, 65, did not immediately return messages Tuesday. The New Yorker quoted Weinstein representative Sallie Hofmeister responding that “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,” said Hofmeister. “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.”

The New Yorker story, written and researched by the NBC correspondent Ronan Farrow, claimed that thirteen women have said Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them between 1990 and 2015. The incidents described range from unwanted groping to forced sex. Some of those incidents overlap with the eight allegations of sexual harassment previously reported by The New York Times, all of which resulted in financial settlements.

But they also go much further. In the article, Rosanna Arquette and Mira Sorvino are among those who claim Weinstein sexually harassed them. Arquette described a 1990s incident at a Beverly Hills hotel in which Weinstein tried to make her give him a massage and then attempted to lead her hand to his penis. Afterward, the actress told the magazine, “He made things very difficult for me for years.”

“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,” Jolie said in an email to the Times. “This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.”

Representatives for the actresses involved in both reports did not return messages seeking comment.

The Italian news agency ANSA said it contacted Argento about the story, and said she responded with a text message that read: “It’s all true, everything is written in the New Yorker. Now leave me in peace.”

Actress Louisette Geiss (“Two and a Half Men”) also came forward Tuesday, announcing in a press conference at Gloria Allred’s Los Angeles office that in a 2008 meeting at the Sundance Film Festival, Weinstein appeared nude in an open bathrobe and asked several times that she watch him masturbate.

The New Yorker also reported that 16 former and current executives and assistants at The Weinstein Co. and Miramax either witnessed or knew of Weinstein’s unwanted sexual advances. “All sixteen said the behavior was widely known within both Miramax and the Weinstein Company.”

The Weinstein Co. board of directors, which includes Weinstein’s brother Bob, issued a statement late Tuesday, denying any culpability.

“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 four-member board said in a statement. “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.”