Woman Says She Was Sexually Assaulted, Harassed by Harvey Weinstein Since She Was 16
Amid a report that the case against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein may be unraveling, lawyers have added a woman to a class-action lawsuit who alleges the producer sexually assaulted her when she was 16.
Weinstein allegedly then went on to harass the woman for the next nine years, promising her movie roles and other opportunities that never materialized after she rebuffed his advances, according to the suit, which was updated Wednesday.
Identified only as Jane Doe, a onetime model and aspiring actor, she joins a class of named women who say they suffered similar treatment during what they thought were professional meetings with Weinstein.
The women allege they were assaulted or that they refused his demands for sexual favors, and afterward, promises for roles or picture deals were never kept, says the lawsuit, which also targets heavy hitters in the entertainment industry who the suit alleges abetted Weinstein’s behavior.
“This claim is preposterous,” Weinstein attorney Ben Brafman said. “Like so many other women in this case who have already been exposed as liars, this latest completely uncorroborated allegation that is almost 20 years old will also be shown to be patently false.”
Brafman has repeatedly denied the previous allegations against his client as well.
Jane Doe was a Polish citizen who arrived in Manhattan “with dreams of becoming an actress.” She met Weinstein in September 2002 at a modeling event, her lawyer says.
Weinstein “lured her” to his apartment in New York’s Soho neighborhood three days later, the lawsuit says. The elevator opened into his apartment, and Weinstein quickly began demanding sex and threatening the girl, it says.
“He told her that if she want(ed) to be an actress, she would have to be comfortable doing whatever the director told her to do — including losing her inhibitions and getting naked,” the lawsuit says. “He then instructed Jane Doe to take off her clothes.”
A virgin at the time, Jane Doe resisted, prompting Weinstein to reel off other actors’ whose careers he had facilitated and intimating she wouldn’t work in Hollywood “unless she acquiesced to his demands,” the lawsuit says.
The producer took off his pants and placed Jane Doe’s hand on his penis as she “continuously protested,” it says.
“Weinstein’s demeanor became intense, as if he was hunting prey,” according to the lawsuit. “Jane Doe realized then Weinstein was determined to claim her as his prize.”
She continued to resist and finally moved to leave the apartment, at which point Weinstein allegedly told her “she needed to work on her stubbornness.”
The lawsuit further alleges that after the assault, Weinstein would call and text Jane Doe on occasion to remind her that he held the keys to her career, the lawsuit says. Jane Doe declined to accept his offers to meet, it says.
Weinstein later promised her an “ensemble role” in a movie and repeatedly told her he was the gatekeeper to her career, it says.
At some point in 2004 or 2005, he showed up at a Four Seasons in New York where she was living and tried to go to her room, but security stopped him, the lawsuit says.
Afterward, he continued calling her, and “wanting to avoid his wrath, and still wanting to become an actor, Jane Doe became well versed in the art of letting Weinstein down gently.” She considered him “powerful and dangerous,” according to the lawsuit.
He offered her a role as an extra in “The Nanny Diaries,” starring Scarlett Johansson, and told her that she needed to be “very good to him,” the lawsuit says.
In 2006, Jane Doe requested a letter of recommendation to acting school, which the mogul had a Weinstein Co. executive provide before asking her if she’d like to get a drink, the lawsuit says. She declined.
The calls and texts increased. He sent her a box of old movies, saying he wanted to discuss them with her. He set up a meeting with a talent agency and called later to see if she “appreciates the things he does for her,” according to the lawsuit.
‘Jane Doe would have to trust him’
In 2008, she moved back to New York after living in Los Angeles for a spell, and Weinstein proposed a meetup, which she felt she could handle because she was older and more mature, the lawsuit says.
“Jane Doe was wrong,” it says.
After attempting to convince her to return to modeling — something she was reluctant to do — Weinstein allegedly “assured her that things had worked out well for others who gave sexual favors” and cited a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model whose career had flourished.
“Jane Doe would have to trust him, and give him control,” the lawsuit says, characterizing Weinstein’s message to the woman.
During the meeting, he saw singer Christina Aguilera on television, made a crude remark, unzipped his pants and began touching himself, prompting Jane Doe to leave, according to the lawsuit.
Jane Doe was later offered a spot on “Project Runway,” which Weinstein’s company produced, but when she arrived, she got the impression people felt she was there not based on her talent but as a favor to Weinstein, the lawsuit says.
“Again, she felt embarrassed and ashamed. She felt like a joke,” it says.
By 2010, she was suffering from depression and anorexia. She moved back to Los Angeles, and Weinstein called to invite her to have coffee but “exhausted from the years of abuse and harassment,” she declined, the lawsuit says.
“Because Jane Doe was unwilling to give Weinstein the sexual favors he demanded, Weinstein never gave her work and made sure others didn’t either,” the suit alleges.
Is the case crumbling?
News of Jane Doe’s inclusion in the class-action lawsuit this week comes on the heels of a report by CNN legal analyst Mark Geragos that Weinstein’s criminal case may never make it to trial because of squabbling between the Manhattan district attorney’s office and the New York Police Department.
In October 2017, The New Yorker released an audio recording of Weinstein speaking with model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez as part of a 2015 sting the New York police set up after Gutierrez told authorities that Weinstein had groped her.
In the recording, Weinstein makes potentially incriminating comments to Gutierrez, apologizing for touching her breast. Weinstein was not charged with a crime at the time.
“While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law,” Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman-Agnifilo said.
The New York Police Department and the Manhattan prosecutor’s office publicly pointed fingers at each other. The infighting, Geragos said, is symbolic of this “political hot potato” case, where the lines between public opinion and due process are blurred.
Since The New Yorker’s bombshell report detailed allegations ranging from aggressive overtures to rape, Weinstein’s accusers have demanded justice.
New York police encouraged the public to call in tips related to Weinstein, and investigators began looking into sexual assault accusations in New York, Los Angeles and London.
Jane Doe joins dozens of women
More than 80 women — from those struggling to make it as actors to Hollywood A-listers such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek — have accused Weinstein of unwanted advances. Only three were deemed by prosecutors to be credible and within the relevant statute of limitations.
The producer was charged in May with rape and sex abuse involving those three women. Despite the report the case is falling apart, prosecutors and the New York Police Department insist the evidence against the producer is strong.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Brafman, his attorney, has said Weinstein maintains “he has never engaged in nonconsensual sexual behavior with anyone.”
“This case is falling apart because it is a fundamentally bad case, and bad cases eventually fall apart, even when law enforcement officials try and stack the deck against the accused,” Brafman said.
Weinstein is expected to appear for proceedings December 20 in New York Supreme Court.