The Harvey Weinstein scandal rages on. Days after The New York Times published its exposé of the now-former head of The Weinstein Company, alleging decades of sexual harassment and assault from multiple victims, The New Yorker published its own deep-dive exploration into the Hollywood mogul’s crimes, and it’s chilling. The biggest bombshell is also the most horrific: A new allegation that Weinstein raped three women, including actress Asia Argento and an aspiring actress named Lucia Evans.
The piece builds on the New York Times piece, but as journalist Ronan Farrow explains: “The story, however, is more complex, and there is more to know and to understand. In the course of a ten-month investigation, I was told by thirteen women that, between the nineteen-nineties and 2015, Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them, allegations that corroborate and overlap with the Times’s revelations, and also include far more serious claims.” Those claims include not just rape, but further stories about harassment and abuse, fears of careers being destroyed, and a company culture in which Weinstein’s own employees were made complicit to his crimes.
As Farrow further adds in his introduction, “for more than twenty years, Weinstein has also been trailed by rumors of sexual harassment and assault. This has been an open secret to many in Hollywood and beyond, but previous attempts by many publications, including The New Yorker, to investigate and publish the story over the years fell short of the demands of journalistic evidence. Too few women were willing to speak, much less allow a reporter to use their names, and Weinstein and his associates used nondisclosure agreements, monetary payoffs, and legal threats to suppress these myriad stories.”
1. Three Women Allege That Weinstein Raped Them
The biggest allegation to emerge from Farrow’s New Yorker piece is put forth early: “Three women––among them Argento and a former aspiring actress named Lucia Evans—told me that Weinstein raped them, allegations that include Weinstein forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex. Four women said that they experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault.” Farrow added, “Four of the women I interviewed cited encounters in which Weinstein exposed himself or masturbated in front of them.”
Argento recounted her experiences with Weinstein in a series of “emotional interviews” with Farrow, sharing that she was just 21 the first time she alleges Weinstein assaulted her. “Argento said that, in 1997, one of Weinstein’s producers invited her to what she understood to be a party thrown by Miramax at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, on the French Riviera. Argento felt professionally obliged to attend.” There was no party, just Weinstein alone in a hotel room.
“At first, Weinstein was solicitous, praising her work. Then he left the room. When he returned, he was wearing a bathrobe and holding a bottle of lotion. ‘He asks me to give a massage. I was, like, “Look man, I am no fucking fool,”‘ Argento said. ‘But, looking back, I am a fucking fool. And I am still trying to come to grips with what happened’…Argento said that, after she reluctantly agreed to give Weinstein a massage, he pulled her skirt up, forced her legs apart, and performed oral sex on her as she repeatedly told him to stop.”
Aspiring actress Evans first met Weinstein in 2004, and when he brought her to his office to discuss her career, he assaulted her.
“He forced me to perform oral sex on him,” Evans told Farrow. The article added, “As she objected, Weinstein took his penis out of his pants and pulled her head down onto it. ‘I said, over and over, “I don’t want to do this, stop, don’t,”‘ she said. ‘I tried to get away, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t want to kick him or fight him.'”
Both women allege that Weinstein continued to contact them after their assaults, and both felt that their careers were at risk if they rejected. They were not alone.
2. Actresses Allege Weinstein Would Ruin Careers If Rebuffed
As Farrow writes, “Virtually all of the people I spoke with told me that they were frightened of retaliation.” That includes both former employees and his victims, many of which were convinced he would destroy their careers if they spoke out. And those fears weren’t unfounded, as Weinstein directly retaliated against them after they rejected him.
“Four actresses, including Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette, told me they suspected that, after they rejected Weinstein’s advances or complained about them to company representatives, Weinstein had them removed from projects or dissuaded people from hiring them,” Farrow writes. “Multiple sources said that Weinstein frequently bragged about planting items in media outlets about those who spoke against him; these sources feared that they might be similarly targeted.”
Argento in particular felt that she must appease Weinstein if she didn’t want her career ruined, which is why she stayed in contact with him for so long. It’s also part of the reason why she was so afraid to come forward. “Argento said that she knew this contact would be used to attack the credibility of her allegation,” Farrow reports. “In part, she said, the initial assault made her feel overpowered each time she encountered Weinstein, even years later.”
Sorvino told Farrow “that [Weinstein] sexually harassed her and tried to pressure her into a physical relationship while they worked together. She said that, at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, 1995, she found herself in a hotel room with Weinstein, who produced the movie she was there to promote, ‘Mighty Aphrodite,’ for which she later won an Academy Award. Sorvino remembers Weinstein massaging her, and then “sort of chasing” her around when she attempted to get away from him. Later, Sorvino alleges that he masturbated in front of her.
Farrow added, “The fact that Weinstein was so instrumental in Sorvino’s success also made her hesitate” to come forward… Sorvino said that she felt afraid and intimidated, and that the incidents had a significant impact on her.”
Arquette recounted a similar tale. She said she was set to meet Weinstein at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the early ’90s to pick up a script, but once there, she was told to meet him alone in his hotel room. “Arquette recalled that, when she arrived at the room, Weinstein opened the door wearing a white bathrobe. Weinstein said that his neck was sore and that he needed a massage. She told him that she could recommend a good masseuse,” Farrow reports.
For Arquette, it got much worse.
“‘Then he grabbed my hand,’ she said. He put it on his neck. When she yanked her hand away, she told me, Weinstein grabbed it again and pulled it toward his penis, which was visible and erect. ‘My heart was really racing. I was in a fight-or-flight moment,’ she said. She told Weinstein, ‘I will never do that,'” Farrow reports in the piece. “Weinstein told her that she was making a huge mistake by rejecting him, and named an actress and a model who he claimed had given in to his sexual overtures and whose careers he said he had advanced as a result.”
3. His Employees Knew About the Behavior
The New Yorker exposé sheds further light on what sounds like Weinstein’s modus operandi, one that directly involved the knowledge and often involvement of his own employees.
“Sixteen former and current executives and assistants at Weinstein’s companies told me that they witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching at events associated with Weinstein’s films and in the workplace,” Farrow reports. “They and others describe a pattern of professional meetings that were little more than thin pretexts for sexual advances on young actresses and models. All sixteen said that the behavior was widely known within both Miramax and the Weinstein Company.”
One of the women Farrow spoke to, a former employee named Emily Nestor, sheds further light on the situation. Farrow reports, “Nestor was twenty-five when she started the job, and, after finishing law school and starting business school, was considering a career in the movie industry. On her first day in the position, Nestor said, two employees told her that she was Weinstein’s ‘type’ physically.” Later, Nestor met with Weinstein in a professional capacity, and alleges he is sexually harassed her. It was not a secret.
“Nestor told me that some people at the company did seem concerned,” Farrow writes. “Irwin Reiter, a senior executive who had worked for Weinstein for almost three decades, sent her a series of messages via LinkedIn. ‘We view this very seriously and I personally am very sorry your first day was like this,’ Reiter wrote. ‘Also if there are further unwanted advances, please let us know.'”
Other sources who worked for Weinstein shared stories about the “large volume” of meetings that Weinstein would have with actresses and models looking to advance in the industry. Often, Weinstein would ask female employees and executive to start the meetings with him, before leaving him alone with the potential victims. One female executive describes the gig as being a “honeypot.”
Although none of the women Farrow spoke to quit their jobs because of the behavior, Farrow reports that “many expressed guilt and regret about not having said or done more. They spoke about what they believed to be a culture of silence about sexual assault inside Miramax and the Weinstein Company and across the entertainment industry more broadly.”
4. He Was Almost Prosecuted
In early 2015, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, a one-time finalist in the Miss Italy contest, met Weinstein at a reception for “New York Spring Spectacular,” which he produced.
“Following the event, Guterriez’s agency e-mailed to say that Weinstein wanted to set up a business meeting as soon as possible. Guterriez arrived at Weinstein’s office in Tribeca early the next evening with her modelling portfolio. In the office, she sat with Weinstein on a couch to review the portfolio, and he began staring at her breasts, asking if they were real. Gutierrez later told officers of the New York Police Department Special Victims Division that Weinstein then lunged at her, groping her breasts and attempting to put a hand up her skirt while she protested.”
Guterriez went immediately to the NYPD to report the crime, and when Weinstein called her later that night, she was sitting with an officer. She agreed to meet Weinstein the next day, but was already working with the cops, even agreeing to wear a wire. “The next day, Gutierrez met Weinstein at the bar of the Tribeca Grand Hotel,” Farrow reports. “A team of undercover officers helped guide her through the interaction. On the recording, which I have heard in full, Weinstein lists actresses whose careers he has helped and offers Gutierrez the services of a dialect coach. Then he presses her to join him in his hotel room while he showers. Gutierrez says no repeatedly.”
You can hear that tape below:
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) October 10, 2017
Although Gutierrez was eager to charge him, and one source told Farrow that “Weinstein, if charged, would have most likely faced a count of sexual abuse in the third degree, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of three months in jail,” a seeming smear campaign was launched against her. The D.A.’s office did not press charges, and “Gutierrez, facing Weinstein’s legal team, and in return for a payment, signed a highly restrictive nondisclosure agreement with Weinstein, including an affidavit stating that the acts Weinstein admits to in the recording never happened.”
Yet, as Farrow reports, “Two sources close to the police investigation said that they had no reason to doubt Gutierrez’s account of the incident. One of them, a police source, said that the department had collected more than enough evidence to prosecute Weinstein.”
5. Weinstein is Eager For “A Second Chance”
When contacted tor comment, Sallie Hofmeister, a spokesperson for Weinstein, issued a statement to The New Yorker regarding the allegations made in Farrow’s article.
It reads in full:
“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. 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.”