Harvey Weinstein Intern Alleges 1980 Harassment Incident With Naked Mogul
Paula Wachowiak, now 62, recalls a "traumatic" experience with Weinstein on one of his first films, including him asking her, "Was seeing me naked the highlight of your internship?"
As more women come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, a 62-year-old Buffalo, New York, woman has opened up about what may be the earliest reported alleged incident of harassment. In 1980, the woman says, Weinstein exposed himself to her and asked her for a massage in a hotel room before making a lewd remark.
Paula Wachowiak told the Buffalo News of her experience when she was a 24-year-old intern on one of his first movies, 1981's The Burning. Weinstein was then known as part of the concert promoting duo Harvey and Corky, working with Horace "Corky" Booker to book A-list rockers. Wachowiak, who was studying communications at the University at Buffalo, needed an internship for the summer and knew of Weinstein and Burger as concert bookers. She tried to get an internship with Harvey and Corky, she told the Buffalo News, and reached out to Weinstein several times before he suggested that she intern on a slasher movie he was producing, ultimately titled The Burning, which was being filmed in Buffalo that summer, Wachowiak said.
Working as a production assistant, Wachowiak said she mostly had to cash checks at a bank, but was once asked by an auditor working on the project to take a bunch of checks in a manila folder to Weinstein's hotel room to get them signed.
When she got to the hotel room, Weinstein was holding a hand towel around his waist and she could tell that he was naked underneath, she told the Buffalo News.
When he took her folder, Weinstein dropped the towel and was naked, she said.
Wachowiak thought, "Relax, these are movie people, they think nothing of walking around naked," she said. "Just keep your eyes on his face and don’t look down. And for God sake don’t let on that you want to run out of the room screaming.”
He sat on the bed with the folder over his groin and went through the checks, asking why they were paying for certain things, she recalled. He then complained about a pain in his shoulder and asked her for a massage, Wachowiak explained. Telling the newspaper that she'd experienced unwanted advances before, Wachowiak shot back, "That's not in my job description."
"He tried to encourage me by telling me what a fantastic opportunity it was for me to be part of this project," Wachowiak related. "I told him that I was happy to be part of the project but I would not touch him. He finally gave up and signed all the checks."
When she left the room, she burst into tears and later told the project's accountant and production supervisor what happened to her, Wachowiak said. She recalled that the experience was "traumatic" at the time but is past it now. Wachowiak is now a grandmother of three and an employment specialist who works with people with disabilities, according to the Buffalo News.
She continued her internship and didn't run into Weinstein again until the end of the shoot, when he approached her and asked, "So, was seeing me naked the highlight of your internship?"
Wachowiak replied, "Actually, Harvey, you disgust me." He laughed, got back into his car and drove off, she said. She soon moved to New York City and even attended the premiere for The Burning, where she saw Weinstein again.
"What? Are you everywhere?," he said, groaning, Wachowiak recalled.
She laughed and said, "Yes, Harvey, I am."
Wachowiak told the Buffalo News she has told her story many times before, but not to a reporter. When she read the explosive reports in The New York Times and The New Yorker of decades of alleged harassment and assault, Wachowiak said she was struck by how similar the accounts of accusers in those publications were to what she had experienced. She told the Buffalo News that she had a feeling she'd someday hear more allegations about Weinstein. "Finally, it's out," Wachowiak said.
It was reported earlier this week that the University at Buffalo is moving to revoke the honorary degree it gave Weinstein in 2000.