Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

13 women come forward in ever-widening Weinstein rape scandal

Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein faced claims Tuesday he raped an Italian film star and two other women, in a widening scandal that has drawn condemnation from across the film industry as well as America’s liberal political elite.

The women’s allegations against the 65-year-old movie mogul were made in an bombshell expose published by the New Yorker on Tuesday. 

Weinstein denies all charges, according to a statement from his spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister, circulated among US media. 

But former President Barack Obama and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton have weighed in to condemn the Oscar-winning producer, a longtime Democratic Party donor who has become a political liability.

His wife, British fashion designer Georgina Chapman meanwhile told celebrity magazine People she was leaving Weinstein, with whom she has two children.

The latest accusations are a hugely damaging escalation of the scandal. Previous allegations which led to his weekend sacking from The Weinstein Company had so far been limited to complaints about harassment. 

New Yorker writer Ronan Farrow spent 10 months interviewing 13 women who reported they were harassed or assaulted by Weinstein. 

The investigation was published as fresh misconduct allegations emerged from Hollywood A-listers such as Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Italian actress Asia Argento, the 42-year-old daughter of iconic horror director Dario Argento, said Weinstein forced oral sex and intercourse on her 20 years ago. 

She told the publication she had maintained her silence until now for fear that Weinstein would “crush” her, adding: “I know he has crushed a lot of people before.” 

She said Weinstein, who has weighed up to 300 pounds (136 kilograms), terrified her due to his immense size.

“It wouldn’t stop. It was a nightmare,” she added, revealing that she had felt forced to pretend she was enjoying the attack in hopes that it would be over with sooner.

Argento acknowledges that her credibility may be compromised by the fact that she eventually yielded to his advances, even growing close to him and having consensual sex with him multiple times over the following five years.

She said she felt “obliged” to submit, however, and worried that he would ruin her career if she rejected him.

“Just his body, his presence, his face, bring me back to the little girl that I was when I was 21… After the rape, he won,” she told the New Yorker.

Lucia Evans, an aspiring actress, said she met Weinstein at the Miramax office in New York in 2004 and that he forced her to perform oral sex on him.

“I said, over and over, ‘I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,'” she told the New Yorker.

‘People give up’ 

Evans said she was overpowered and “just sort of gave up.” 

“That’s the most horrible part of it, and that’s why he’s been able to do this for so long to so many women: people give up, and then they feel like it’s their fault,” she added.

Another woman, who was too afraid to allow her name to be published, told the New Yorker Weinstein brought her to a hotel room and “forced himself on me sexually.”

She thought about going to the police, but decided it would be a case of “he said, she said,” and worried about how powerful his legal team would be, and how much she had to lose. 

Another instance involved model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, once a finalist in the Miss Italy contest, whom the New Yorker said Weinstein met in March 2015 at a reception for a show he was producing in New York. 

According to the New Yorker, Gutierrez says Weinstein “lunged at her, groping her breasts and attempting to put a hand up her skirt” at a meeting in his offices in Tribeca.

She reported the incident and the New York Police Department (NYPD) asked her to wear a wire to his play “Finding Neverland.” 

Audio of their conversation in a hallway at the Tribeca Grand Hotel was released by the magazine, with Weinstein heard repeatedly trying to persuade her to come into his room. 

“Why yesterday you touch my breast?” she asks, and he replies: “Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in, I’m used to that.” 

Clinton, Obama weigh in 

Authorities decided not to press charges, according to the New Yorker, after it emerged the young woman had attended one of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous “bunga bunga” sex parties.

Weinstein was fired late Sunday from his own film studio, three days after a New York Times report alleged that the man behind such hits as “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist” had preyed on young women hoping to break into the industry. 

The board of The Weinstein Company issued a statement Tuesday vowing to help in any criminal investigation “while pursuing justice for the victims and a full and independent investigation of our own.”

The Times, as well as various entertainment media, separately reported on Tuesday that the litany of Weinstein’s harassment victims also included Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette and French actress Judith Godreche.

“I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein,” former Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said in a statement Tuesday, while former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle said they were “disgusted.”

“Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status,” they said in a statement.

Chapman, his second wife, with whom he has two children, told People: “I have chosen to leave my husband. Caring for my young children is my first priority and I ask the media for privacy at this time.”

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Mkhize throws the book at the Special Investigating Unit

It’s a long shot at political redemption for the former health minister and, more pressingly, a bid to avert criminal charges

Pockets of instability in Kenya are underpinned by unequal development

Stability in Kenya hinges on a just, equitable distribution of resources, and a commitment to progress human development for the marginalised

Eastern Cape premier Mabuyane lives large amid province’s poverty

Oscar Mabuyane and MEC Babalo Madikizela allegedly used a portion of state funds for struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s commemoration for their own benefit

Constitutional court confirms warrantless searches in cordoned off areas unconstitutional

The law was challenged in response to raids in inner Johannesburg seemingly targeting illegal immigrants and the highest court has pronounced itself 10 days before an election in which then mayor Herman Mashaba has campaigned on an anti-foreigner ticket
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×