Weinstein Hit With Civil Rights Lawsuit Along With His Brother, Company
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
A civil rights lawsuit targets the company that supported Harvey Weinstein. We have heard the allegations that the film producer sexually abused many women who depended on him for work. The lawsuit, by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, focuses on employees of the Weinstein Company, some of them described as enablers, others as victims themselves. Hadas Gold is a media reporter for CNN, and she joins us once again via Skype. Good morning.
HADAS GOLD: Good morning.
INSKEEP: And we should warn people we're getting into descriptions of sexual assault here. How did his employees allegedly support Harvey Weinstein, according to this lawsuit?
GOLD: So this lawsuit goes into actually a good amount of detail of how these women, specific employees actually, were even hired and held positions that were known to be facilitators for these sexual encounters that were sort of described as personal time. Everybody from assistants to executives, even down to the drivers, the lawsuit alleges, were kind of coerced into helping Harvey Weinstein in his sexual pursuits. And also, that if they were to complain about it, if they themselves would become victims or intimidated into sexual relationships with him, that in some cases, their complaints to human resources would just go right back to Harvey Weinstein, the lawsuit alleges.
INSKEEP: According to the suit, was this an explicit part of many people's job? They would be told, this is what you do for a living?
GOLD: In some cases, the lawsuit alleges this was sort of part of the job description. And in one case, the lawsuit talks about sort of a handbook that's passed down through various assistants about how this all works. Now, it wasn't necessarily - it doesn't seem it was written in as explicit terms, but it would be sort of described as personal time or as friends of Harvey or certain other terms that made it clear what it was. But in some cases, these assistants were actually tasked with even helping to administer some erectile dysfunction drugs.
INSKEEP: Would some of the employees also themselves become victims of sexual abuse in addition to facilitating sexual abuse?
GOLD: Yes. That is what this lawsuit alleges, and it talks about certain instances where assistants would be brought in and asked to, under the pretense of doing something for work such as figuring out schedules - and the lawsuit alleges that then Harvey Weinstein would try to coerce them into giving him a massage, or he would appear in front of them without any clothing. And the main issue here, it seems, from the lawsuit, is that the company did not do anything - at least, the lawsuit alleges - the company did not do anything to try to stop this. And one interesting note in this lawsuit is that they say Bob Weinstein, who is Harvey's brother, who, when this all first came out said that he had no idea, that he found him depraved, it says that, actually, he was notified about some of these behaviors in 2014 and 2015 and did not do anything about it.
INSKEEP: Well, what does the company say about all of these allegations?
GOLD: So Harvey Weinstein himself says that he believes that a fair investigation will demonstrate that these allegations are without merit and that while his behavior was not without fault, that at the end of the inquiry, it'll be clear that he promoted more women, he says, to key executive positions than any other industry leader. The board of Harvey Weinstein's company says that they are disappointed and that many of the allegations they believe are inaccurate, and they look forward to bringing the facts to light.
INSKEEP: Why sue now?
GOLD: They are suing now because the Weinstein Company is about to be sold. Or it was about to be sold, to a businesswoman who's actually the former Small Business Administration leader, Maria Contreras-Sweet. And the lawsuit now is really halting this sale because the attorney general is worried that victims won't be properly compensated should the sale go through.
INSKEEP: Hadas, pleasure talking with you again. Thank you very much.
GOLD: Thank you.
INSKEEP: CNN's Hadas Gold on a lawsuit by the New York state attorney general against Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Company.
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