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Harvey Weinstein has always been a larger than life figure, a quintessentially New York character whose dealmaking in film, Broadway, television, and Democratic politics have brought him accolades and criticism. And now he's been decimated by a New York Times story chronicling his alleged sexual harassment over a generation, much of which he denies as "patently false."
In a statement to the Times also obtained by BuzzFeed News, Weinstein said he came from a culture in the '60s and '70s when "rules about behavior and workplaces were different." He wrote, "that's not an excuse," and "I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it." Weinstein said he is going on leave from the Weinstein Company to "deal with this issue head on." He then used a made-up quote from his producing partner Jay-Z, and directed his anger toward the NRA. (You can read Weinstein's full statement below.)
An hour after BuzzFeed News had gotten Weinstein's remorseful statement through Lisa Bloom, one of his lawyers, Charles Harder, another Weinstein attorney, sent BuzzFeed News a statement saying they're preparing to sue the Times:
The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein. It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by 9 different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.
In response, a Times spokesperson stated: "We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting. Mr. Weinstein was aware and able to respond to specific allegations in our story before publication. In fact, we published his response in full."
The Times story details decades of Weinstein's sexual malfeasance, during which he has allegedly leveraged his power in exchange for sex. In one instance, he is reported to have lured Ashley Judd to his hotel room (she had told Variety about this incident in 2015 without naming Weinstein); in another, he allegedly did the same to an employee; in a third, Weinstein is alleged to have "badgered" a female assistant "into giving him a massage while he was naked."
According to the Times, Weinstein has reached at least eight financial settlements with women designed to cover up "sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact." A 2015 memo by a former employee, Lauren O'Connor, quoted repeatedly by the Times, depicts the atmosphere at the Weinstein Company as a "toxic environment for women at this company." Weinstein, according to the Times, paid $100,000 to Rose McGowan after an "episode in a hotel room" at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997. It was, according to the Times, "not to be construed as an admission” but intended to “avoid litigation and buy peace.”
This story is developing, please check back for updates. Read the full New York Times story here.
Statement from Harvey Weinstein: