When the allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape against Harvey Weinstein burst into the public sphere last month, Bob Weinstein said that he was unaware of his brother’s harmful behavior. “I thought he was literally just going out there cheating in a pervasive way,” he told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. “No way. No F-in’ way was I aware that that was the type of predator that he was. And the way he convinced people to do things? I thought they were all consensual situations.”
However, a new exposé from The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow details that some of the payments underwriting Harvey Weinstein’s settlements with accusers came from Bob’s personal bank account, to hide the move from Miramax, Disney and Harvey’s wife Georgina Chapman. For example, a 1990s case saw Bob pay 250,000 pounds — approximately $600,000 today — to be split between two female employees in England who accused Harvey of sexual harassment and assault, one of whom was Harvey’s former assistant Zelda Perkins.
Bob Weinstein has acknowledged the personal payout to the New Yorker, but noted that he was misled about how the money was being handled (even though the allegations were reported to Miramax). “Regarding that payment, I only know what Harvey told me, and basically what he said was he was fooling around with two women and they were asking for money,” he explained. “And he didn’t want his wife to find out, so he asked me if I could write a check, and so I did, but there was nothing to indicate any kind of sexual harassment.”
The report also outlines Harvey Weinstein’s pervasive use of lifetime nondisclosure agreements, as detailed with Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez and former assistant Perkins. Both spoke to Farrow in violation of their NDAs and noted how they felt pressured by lawyers on both sides to sign their settlements after their hopes for criminal justice were dimmed.
Gutierrez’s 2015 settlement, as seen by Farrow, ordered the destruction of all copies of audio recordings of Weinstein admitting to the groping, as well as the surrender of her phone and any other devices that might have contained copies of the recording, and her passwords to email accounts or any other digital communication that could have been used to send out copies. It also included a pre-signed sworn statement, to be released in the event of a breach, stating that the groping Weinstein admits to in the tape never occurred. Gutierrez told Farrow that she wishes she’d spoken up sooner: “People need to really change right now…. To listen and speak. That was the worst thing — people not speaking.”
Perkins’ 1990s settlement mandated that Weinstein receive treatment from a psychiatrist of Perkins’ choice for three years or “as long as his therapist deems necessary,” and that Disney be notified of future harassment settlements made by him and hire an attorney specifically tasked with responding to sexual-harassment allegations at Miramax. She said Miramax “stalled and stalled and stalled,” only implementing the human-resources changes. “It’s more about the system that protected him and that enabled him, because that’s the only thing that we can change. Money and power enabled, and the legal system has enabled,” she told Farrow. “Ultimately, the reason Harvey Weinstein followed the route he did is because he was allowed to, and that’s our fault. As a culture, that’s our fault.”
The report also highlights how the use of NDAs perpetuates the behavior of repeat offenders while silenced victims are left to suffer. For example, Rose McGowan, who has publicly claimed that Weinstein raped her in 1997 at the Sundance Film Festival, reached a $100,000 settlement with Weinstein. It did not include a nondisclosure provision, but removed her right to sue Weinstein. She told the New Yorker that though she wanted to pursue charges at the time, her lawyer instead convinced her to sign the agreement. “That was very painful…. I thought a hundred thousand dollars was a lot of money at the time, because I was a kid.”
Farrow’s piece also notes how Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys hired the private intelligence firm K2 to insure Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance did not press charges against Weinstein regarding Gutierrez, whose past was dug up and used against her in questioning by the head of the District Attorney’s sex-crimes unit. It also points to the tens of thousands of dollars in donations made by the producer’s legal team to Vance’s campaign’s before and after his decision not to press charges.
It also includes the participation of Irwin Reiter, a longtime employee of Weinstein’s and current senior vp accounting of The Weinstein Co. Reiter said he spoke out to combat the company’s culture of silence: “[Weinstein] was so dominant that I think a lot of people were afraid of him, afraid to confront him, or question him, and that was the environment,” he said. “A forever N.D.A. should not be legal…. People should not be made to live with that. He’s created so many victims that have been burdened for so many years, and it’s just not right.”
THR has reached out to Bob Weinstein for further comment.