Attorneys have hit Harvey Weinstein, his companies, and members of The Weinstein Company Holdings’ Board of Directors with a class-action lawsuit that holds that they “engaged in an illegal organized enterprise to conceal and further Weinstein’s pattern of sexual assault.” Attorneys from Hagens Berman and The Armenta Law Firm are representing a proposed class of hundreds of actresses who suffered sexual assault, false imprisonment, battery, rape and other heinous sexual acts at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, in the lawsuit filed today.
Per an official statement, “The plaintiffs bringing the case were lured by Miramax or TWC employees and isolated with Weinstein at industry events, hotel rooms, Weinstein’s home, office meetings and/or auditions or to discuss involvement in a project. The lawsuit filed against Weinstein, Miramax, The Weinstein Company Holdings and the members of its Board of Directors states that these entities colluded together to perpetuate and conceal Weinstein’s widespread sexual harassment and assaults.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and brings various charges against Weinstein, his companies, and members of The Weinstein Company’s Board of Directors for violating the RICO Act, witness tampering, mail and wire fraud, assault, civil battery, negligent supervision and retention, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit’s six plaintiffs will serve as a proxy for a proposed class of hundreds of other women in the entertainment industry who may have been victims of crimes perpetrated by Weinstein.
“These separate entities all worked in unison to make sure Harvey Weinstein’s unforgivable acts were swept under the red carpet,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “This lawsuit seeks to hold Weinstein, his business, his billionaire friends who posed as Directors, and Miramax accountable for their actions with the full extent of the law. We want justice.”
The plaintiffs include Louisette Geiss, Katherine Kendall, Zoe Brock, Sarah Ann Masse, Melissa Sagemiller, and Nannette Klatt, and they have issued a joint statement, which can be read in full here
The statement reads in part, “We are but six women representing hundreds. Dozens have come forward so far, and many more remain in the shadows, still trying to find their courage. They are watching us defend ourselves for not coming forward sooner…It has been two months and the world is still asking how this could have happened. How could so many women have been violated? How could so many people have covered up for him? How could so many people have done nothing to help? Money.”
It continues, “One thing is clear: to create a permanent change in the culture, we need to send a message to the powerful and wealthy individuals, companies and industries that fêted their Harvey Weinsteins, instead of protecting the victims. These individuals and companies chose to put ad revenue and movie sales, profits and ledgers before compassion and integrity. If money is the language they speak, then so be it. Let them learn that it is costlier to cover up assault, harassment, rape and violence. Let them learn the hard way: wallet first.”
The plaintiffs also note that they “fully expect Mr. Weinstein, his surrogates, and his legal team to fight mercilessly” and they have “come to this decision anticipating the worst and hoping for the best.”
It ends with a clarion call: “Predators thrive in the shadows. It is only by keeping their secrets for them that we allow them to get away with it. That stops today. Harvey Weinstein is a predator. Bob knew it. The board knew it. The lawyers knew it. The private investigators knew it. Hollywood knew it. We knew it. Now the world knows it. Let’s finally do something about it.”
UPDATED (December 6): Weinstein’s defense attorneys, Blair Berk and Ben Brafman, released the following statement: “Mr. Weinstein has never at any time committed an act of sexual assault, and it is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behavior or consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of criminal conduct. There is a wide canyon between mere allegation and truth, and we are confident that any sober calculation of the facts will prove no legal wrongdoing occurred. Nonetheless, to those offended by Mr. Weinstein’s behavior, he remains deeply apologetic.”