TV Reporter Who Says Harvey Weinstein Masturbated in Front of Her Reveals Why She Spoke Out
Lauren Sivan spoke to Megyn Kelly on Kelly's eponymous 'Today' show hour Monday.
Megyn Kelly landed the first TV interview with TV reporter Lauren Sivan, who, just a few days ago, alleged that Harvey Weinstein masturbated in front of her after trying to kiss her.
Sivan, who joined Kelly in her Megyn Kelly Today studio for an interview during the NBC News host's 9 a.m. hour of the morning show Monday, told her story about meeting and being accosted by Weinstein, including how she felt as it was happening and looking back on the incident.
She revealed that it was Weinstein's bizarre statement to the New York Times after that outlet broke the news Thursday of decades of alleged sexual harassment that was the "final straw."
“That apology was the final straw for me, so when I was contacted by a reporter, that is when I said, ‘Oh no, enough is enough with this guy.’ There is no remorse, there was no acknowledgement of the type of behavior that was going on," Sivan said. "If he did this with me, who is just a stranger, who is not an actress in Hollywood and doesn’t need anything from him, I can only imagine how many other women something like this has happened to.”
She added that she believes all of the women who've come forward to allege harassment by Weinstein. She explained that the casualness of Weinstein's behavior with her, she felt, gave her the impression she was not the only one.
Looking back on the incident, Sivan said she saw some red flags when Weinstein took her downstairs for what he said would be a tour of the kitchen and they got down there and just saw two men sweeping. She said Weinstein shooed them away and they walked to a hallway where he cornered her and tried to kiss her. She rebuffed him and he blocked the exit and told her to just stand there and be quiet.
That's when, she says, he exposed himself and began pleasuring himself. Sivan said she was "shocked" and "stood there dumbfounded."
“I was so shocked, I couldn’t believe, what was I witnessing. Could not believe what I was witnessing. It was disgusting and kind of pathetic really to stand there and look at this man. But more than the disgusting act itself, which of course was gross, the demeaning part of it all, that just 20 minutes earlier he was having this great conversation with me and I felt so great and flattered by it. And then, [to have him say] 'stand there and be quiet,' just a few minutes later just negated any warm feelings I had and I realized 'Oh, that is what this is all about.'"
She added, "He finished and I said, 'Can I go now?' And he said, 'Yes let's go, let's both go.'"
Kelly asked if Sivan felt like she could have escaped and Sivan said looking back, she feels like she could have pushed past him if she felt her life was in danger, but at the time she was so shocked and it all happened relatively quickly.
After a commercial break, Kelly asked Sivan why she didn't come forward with her experience right away.
"At the time I had this great job. I was living with my boyfriend in the city. I had this great life. I didn't know what going public would do to me," Sivan said.
She added that she didn't think she would have to see or interact with Weinstein again and felt a feeling of "shame" and wondered if she had done something to make that happen.
She also recalled how Weinstein called her the next day at her TV station — her "heart sank," she said — and how Weinstein said what a great time he had and that they should do it again, which produced an audible groan from the audience. Sivan quickly rebuffed him, repeating that she has a very serious boyfriend and didn't want to see him again and hung up the phone, she said.
While Sivan was not in a workplace environment with Weinstein, Kelly brought out two employment experts to talk about why women are reluctant to speak out or go to human resources when they experience sexual harassment at the workplace.
That discussion had a bit of a meta element as Kelly herself admitted last year that she was sexually harassed by then Fox News CEO Roger Ailes during their time at the cable news outlet. While Kelly didn't acknowledge her own experience as a victim of harassment, she did say that she "find[s] it very irritating when you get the 'Why didn't you go to HR?'" Kelly adopted a man's voice as she said the "Why didn't you go to HR?" part and that was a criticism of her own claims of harassment, specifically by her former colleague Bill O'Reilly.
Kelly and the employment experts said that while accusers are barred from retaliating, in reality, people in the company can do multiple, subtle things to retaliate against sexual harassment accusers.
Sivan said she's "positive that more women will come forward" and that she's "not alone."
"It was kind of a horrible kept secret in Hollywood, that he had this type of behavior. People would whisper about it all the time," she said of Weinstein. "[I]t takes people that work with him to come out and say, ‘Hey, something's wrong here.’ And when you're God, people aren't going to do that. When you're the big man, not just the boss of his company, but you have to understand, he was a titan in Hollywood. He could ruin people's careers if he didn't like you.”
Kelly and the workplace experts also briefly touched on the issue of nondisclosure agreements, where the former Fox News anchor said that she and her colleagues at that network saw women coming forward despite the NDAs.
"Fox News has problems but it's not the only place," Kelly said. She prefaced her interview by saying that she and Sivan used to work together and know each other socially and that Kelly and Weinstein know each other professionally and have been in contact from time to time. Kelly said her show reached out to Weinstein for a comment on Sivan's story, but he didn't respond.
The Weinstein Company's board of directors fired Weinstein on Sunday in light of new information about his misconduct.
Later on the 10 a.m. hour of Today, co-host Kathie Lee Gifford talked about her own experience with Weinstein and being sexually harassed by a producer.
Gifford said that while she's been friends with Weinstein since Pulp Fiction came out in the '90s and, echoing Meryl Streep's statement Monday, says she didn't know of or see any of the sexual harassment others are alleging.
"He's always been fantastic to me," Gifford said of Weinstein. "I never saw any of this. I'm not saying it didn't happen. I'm just saying I know a different man, just like I did with Bill Cosby. So it's very upsetting to me on a personal level. This is a man I considered a friend. I feel for his family, and I feel for him. It's also upsetting for me as a woman that this kind of behavior is real, and no one ever thinks it's going to catch up with them."
Gifford and co-host Hoda Kotb also shared a clip of Sivan's interview with Kelly, which Gifford said she could relate to as the "exact same thing" happened to her early in her career in L.A., when an unnamed producer invited her to his house to talk about her career.
"I learned from that, boy. I felt grateful I got out of there without being raped," she said. "When you're so demeaned, you feel dirty and so stupid. I thought, 'Kathie, idiot. Never go to somebody's house.' I was 21 years old."
Oct. 9, 7:29 a.m. This story has been updated to include Kathie Lee Gifford's comments in the 10 a.m. hour of Today.
Jackie Strause contributed to this report.