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Ashley Judd has gone on the record to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.
A New York Times exposé published on Thursday alleges “decades of sexual harassment” by The Weinstein Co. mogul. Weinstein “has reached at least eight settlements with women” the paper reported, citing two unnamed sources.
“I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask,” Judd told the Times. “It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining.”
The explosive investigation paints a toxic picture of one of Hollywood’s most notorious film executives. It also brings to light many long-standing rumors about his conduct, both in the office and outside.
The Times article, bylined by investigative reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, arrives a day after news broke that the paper, along with The New Yorker magazine, were independently pursuing stories about the personal behavior of Weinstein.
Weinstein, 65, hired multiple attorneys and several PR crisis consultants in an effort to combat the story, including celebrity lawyer Lisa Bloom and Charles Harder, who represented Hulk Hogan in its fight with the now-defunct Gawker Media.
The Times article opens with Judd’s account that she had been sexually harassed in a hotel room at the Peninsula Beverly Hills two decades ago. She details that he met her wearing a bathrobe, only to ask the actress, who had arrived to the room after a night shoot filming Kiss the Girls, if she would give him a massage or watch him shower.
By naming him, Judd confirms that a story published in Variety two years ago on this exact date was about Weinstein. That widely circulated article detailed the Peninsula encounter but at the time she declined to name him.
Judd added that it was necessary to come forward now: “Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.”
The Times reports that in total, eight women shared stories similar to Judd’s, that Weinstein had a pattern of alleged misconduct. He would appear “nearly or fully naked in front of them, requiring them to be present while he bathed or repeatedly asking for a massage or initiating one himself,” reports the Times.
Weinstein participated in the interview, offering a statement and reporting that he has elected to take a leave of absence to “deal with this issue head-on.”
“I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it,” reads Weinstein’s statement. “Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
Weinstein also added: “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”
He also told the paper that during his leave of absence from his company he will be politically active in campaigning against the National Rifle Association.
According to attorney Lisa Bloom, who has reportedly been advising Weinstein over the last year, the mogul is “an old dinosaur learning new ways” whose “words and behaviors can be perceived as inappropriate, even intimidating.”
The investigative piece says that Weinstein reached the eight settlements after being confronted with allegations of sexual harassment and “unwanted physical contact.” Those payments have ranged between $80,000 and $150,000, the paper reports, citing sources familiar with those negotiations.
One of the settlements was made with Rose McGowan in 1997 following an incident in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival, reports the Times, which added that the $100,000 payment was “not to be construed as an admission” but rather to “avoid litigation and buy peace,” according to an official document. Although she declined comment for the story, McGowan has often hinted that she was sexually assaulted by a studio mogul.
On Wednesday, Weinstein responded to The Hollywood Reporter’s report that investigative pieces were forthcoming, saying, “The story sounds so good, I want to buy the movie rights.” McGowan later tweeted, “I want to buy the rights.” The actress-turned-filmmaker and passionate human rights activist is currently working on a book titled Brave in which she will recount her experiences living in a religious cult and later navigating a successful career in Hollywood. It is believed, and was previously reported by columnist Richard Johnson, that McGowan would detail her experiences with Weinstein in the book. It is currently scheduled for release on Feb. 27 from HarperOne.
THR has reached out for comment from McGowan, who tweeted shortly after the Times story broke. Though she didn’t reference the article, she said this: “Women fight on. And to the men out there, stand up. We need you as allies. #bebrave.”
THR has learned that shortly after the story broke, Weinstein was headed to see his wife, Georgina Chapman, at the close of her fashion show in New York, a bridal collection from her Marchesa fashion house. THR has requested comment from Chapman on the allegations against her husband but has not heard back.
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