Hurricane Harvey, Continued– Weinstein hit with fresh sexual abuse lawsuit as fallout continues
Class action led by anonymous aspiring actress alleging assault by producer targets ‘casting couch’ harassment
Times of Israel
Fallout from sexual harassment and abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein continued Wednesday as the disgraced producer was hit with a new lawsuit, lost an honorary degree and his former company forced to sell off a major film asset because of the scandal.
Weinstein and his former company were hit Wednesday with a proposed class action lawsuit that targets what it called the producer’s “casting couch” harassment and abuses. The suit, filed in Los Angeles federal court by an unnamed aspiring actress who claims Weinstein harassed her in a building occupied by his former company, Miramax, also names The Weinstein Co. as a defendant and accuses its leadership of being complicit in Weinstein’s systematic harassment and abuse of women.
“During her audition, Jane Doe 1 was assaulted by Weinstein, threatened, falsely imprisoned, and suffered emotional and physical distress, and was injured in her property or livelihood as a result of Weinstein’s actions,” the suit alleges, without giving a date for the incident.
“Weinstein told Jane Doe 1 that if she refused his advances and his requests, he would ruin her, and he ultimately withdrew the offer he had given her for a part because she would not accede to his advances.”
The complainant’s lawyers appealed to other victims to join the action against the producer, The Weinstein Company and Miramax, now owned by the Qatari beIN Media Group, arguing that “hundreds of other female actors like her” have found themselves on his casting couch.
“Under the guise of meetings ostensibly to help further class members’ careers or hire them for roles, Weinstein isolated (the) plaintiff and the class members in an attempt to engage in unwanted sexual conduct that took many forms: flashing, groping, fondling, battering, sexual assault, attempted rape and/or completed rape,” the lawsuit states.
Representatives for Weinstein and the company did not respond to messages Wednesday seeking comment.
Dozens of women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong’o and Ashley Judd, have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, while actresses Asia Argento, Rose McGowan and others have accused the Oscar-winner of raping them.
Weinstein’s representatives have denied all accusations of non-consensual sex, but no charges have been filed.
Weinstein, 65, is being investigated by police in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, New York and London.
Wednesday’s proposed suit follows a lawsuit filed against Weinstein and The Weinstein Company in Los Angeles on Tuesday by a single unidentified actress represented by celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred.
The woman says she met the now infamous mogul at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills in late 2015 to discuss being cast in the Netflix series “Marco Polo.”
Once there, however, Weinstein told the woman he wanted to masturbate in front of her and when she said “no” he proceeded to grasp her wrist with one hand and masturbate with the other, the suit alleges.
In the spring of the following year, Weinstein is alleged to have contacted her again as if nothing had happened, giving her the impression she had been cast in “Marco Polo.”
He invited her to meet him again at the Montage Hotel to celebrate and she agreed, according to the woman’s account.
During the meeting, he excused himself and returned in a bathrobe, but when she said she didn’t want to do anything sexual, he dragged her into the bedroom where he used his “massive strength and weight to force himself on her,” the suit alleges.
“Paddington” producer David Heyman earlier said he intended that the Weinstein Co. name to be “nowhere near” ”Paddington 2,” which was wholly financed by Studiocanal.
Also Wednesday, trustees from the State University of New York and the SUNY chancellor revoked the degree granted to Weinstein in 2001. He was an English major at the University at Buffalo from 1969-1973.
In a statement, the University at Buffalo says Weinstein’s alleged conduct is “inconsistent” with the values and policies of the university and “contradicts the spirit of the honorary degree” and “undermines the accomplishments” that were cited to bolster the awarding of the degree.
It is the latest honor lost by Weinstein, who has been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and received lifetime bans from the television academy and producers guild.
The harassment and abuse allegations against Weinstein have led to numerous women coming forward with allegations of harassment and abuse against powerful men, including actor Kevin Spacey, numerous entertainment industry executives and politicians in the United States and abroad.
Actor Terry Crews named a talent agency executive he said groped him, likening the experience on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday morning to being a prisoner of war. Crews said he felt emasculated by the incident, and he has filed a police report.
The scandal in Hollywood has prompted Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey to establish a task force to handle any forthcoming criminal complaints. The advocacy group Women in Film also plans to make a help line and panel of pro-bono legal experts available beginning next month to provide counseling, referrals and legal advice to harassment victims
The Workshop production company announced Wednesday it will begin work this month on an eight-part documentary series that will be called “Shame: The Story of Sexual Harassment in Hollywood.”
The project aims to explore issues starting with the “casting couch mentality” that dates back to the days of silent films. It will stretch from the disgrace of “Fatty” Arbuckle nearly a century ago to modern-day offenders like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, shining a light on how actors, directors and producers have routinely used their power to engage in unsolicited, abusive behavior.