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Harvey Weinstein Takes Leave From The Weinstein Co. in the Wake of Extensive Sexual Harassment and Assault Allegations

Kevin Polk, Getty Images
Kevin Polk, Getty Images

Today, The New York Times published an exposé detailing numerous sexual assault and harassment allegations leveled against Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax and The Weinstein Co. Although Weinstein disputes the allegations, which date back decades, he has announced his intention to take a leave of absence from the distribution company to focus on therapy and to “deal with this issue head on.”

Earlier this week it was revealed that Weinstein was “lawyering up” to combat the Times exposé — the exact nature of which was unknown until this afternoon. The extensive report was the result of a thorough investigation conducted by journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, who uncovered years of sexual assault and harassment allegations. Over the course of “nearly three decades,” Weinstein paid out settlements to at least eight women, including “a young assistant in New York in 1990, an actress in 1997, an assistant in London in 1998, an Italian model in 2015,” and Lauren O’Connor, a former colleague.

The Times also revealed that Weinstein was the studio executive who went unnamed in sexual harassment and assault stories previously shared by Ashley Judd (with Variety) and Rose McGowan (on Twitter) — the latter of whom received a $100,000 settlement with the caveat that it was “not to be construed as an admission” of Weinstein’s guilt, and was intended to “avoid litigation and buy peace.”

While Weinstein disputed these allegations and others, he is set to take a leave of absence from the company he co-founded with his brother, Bob — the latter of whom is only briefly mentioned in the Times article, which notes that he was “rattled” by the allegations.

An official statement from Harvey Weinstein begins with a lame justification: “I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,” he says, before adding, “I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office – or out of it. To anyone.” The statement continues below and bizarrely includes a quote from Jay-Z (which appears to have been entirely made up, according to SPIN):

I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person, and my interactions with the people I work with have changed.

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

Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment. My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons. Over the last year, I’ve asked Lisa Bloom to tutor me, and she’s put together a team of people. I’ve brought on therapists, and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head on. I so respect all women, and regret what happened. I hope that my actions will speak louder than words and that one day we will all be able to earn their trust and sit down together with Lisa to learn more. Jay Z wrote in 4:44 “I’m not the man I thought I was, and I better be that man for my children.” The same is true for me. I want a second chance in the community, but I know I’ve got work to do to earn it. I have goals that are now priorities. Trust me, this isn’t an overnight process. I’ve been trying to do this for 10 years, and this is a wake-up call. I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt, and I plan to do right by all of them.

Weinstein weirdly concludes the statement by saying he intends to “channel that anger” by devoting his “full attention” to the NRA, and reveals that he’s developing a film about President Trump. “I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC,” he adds, noting that he’s naming the organization after his mother: “I will not disappoint her.”

In a development that could only be described as “Weinsteinian,” Lisa Bloom, quoted in the Times article as a lawyer advising Harvey Weinstein, also happens to be an author. Her book, Suspicion Nation, is being developed into a miniseries by Weinstein…and Jay-Z:

The Times exposé is just the beginning. Earlier this week, it was reported that Weinstein had begun “lawyering up” to combat a few investigations into his history conducted by the Times, The New Yorker and NBC’s Ronan Farrow. Those reports are presumably imminent. In the meantime, Weinstein’s attorney Charles Harder tells THR that his client is filing a lawsuit against the Times, for publishing a report that is allegedly “saturated with false and defamatory statements.” Should Weinstein’s lawsuit be successful, Harder says “all proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.”

Yes, because there’s nothing a sexual assault survivor or victim of harassment wants more than a giant payoff from a man accused of assaulting and harassing women for decades. Weinstein may have been able to buy the silence of a few women, but as he undoubtedly learned this week, we always keep our receipts.

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