Six women file class-action lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein and ‘complicit producers’

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We are representing hundreds say the Girls who filed the suit, from dozens after accusations of harassment, rape and sexual assault

Harvey Weinstein and his former film manufacturing company are facing a class-action lawsuit from six women, that are seeking to signify “hundreds” of other women supposedly victimized by the disgraced film producer.

The proposed class action comes as Weinstein is facing numerous criminal investigations throughout the world following accusations of sexual attack, rape, harassment and misconduct from dozens of women. The named plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Zo Brock, a version who shared her story together with the Guardian and alleged that she had to lock himself in a hotel bathroom to escape Weinstein’s improvements when she was 23.

“We are but six women representing hundreds. Dozens have come forward so far, and many more stay in the shadows, still attempting to find their guts,” that the plaintiffs said in a statement. “But we shall, if we could transform our horror stories to some cultural shift.”

The lawsuit alleged that Weinstein has been helped by “complicit manufacturers” and other firms and individuals who aided “facilitate and conceal his pattern of unwanted sexual behaviour”. The companies and those who enabled Weinstein’s behaviour, which was described as an open key in Hollywood, were part of an enterprise that violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Rico), ” according to the complaint. The law was used to target the mafia for coordinated criminal behaviour.

The complaint follows several stories which have accused Weinstein of assaulting and harassing high-profile actors and others in the market, and indicate he went into great lengths to try to silence the women, including deploying an “army of spies“.

The scandal has motivated women in entertainment, media and many of industries to come forward with stories of sexual abuse under the banner of their #MeToo movement, which was recognized as Time magazine Individual of the Year on Wednesday.

Representatives for the film producer and the Weinstein Company, which fired the co-founder after the first allegations surfaced, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Weinstein has previously apologized for his behaviour, but stated he denies a number of the sexual harassment allegations although through his spokespeople. He has also repeatedly stated that he “unequivocally” denies allegations of “non-consensual sex” and asserted he never retaliated against women who refused his advances.

Police in New York, however, recently said a 2010 rape allegation from actor Paz de la Huerta has been “plausible”. The new lawsuit accused Weinstein and his associates with a “long-running practice of isolating and blacklisting Weinstein’s sufferers”.

The 104-page complaint also called his former firm Miramax, the manufacturer’s brother Bob Weinstein and many of former and current Weinstein Company board members. The lawsuit further alleged that James Dolan, the owner of this New York Knicks who sat on the plank in 2015 and 2016, “understood of Weinstein’s pattern and practice of predatory sexual behavior toward women from his private relationship with Weinstein and his standing as a manager of [the Weinstein Company]”.

A spokeswoman for Dolan stated on Wednesday day that lawyers were still assessing the complaint, including: “Mr Dolan is convinced that he acted appropriately in all things relating to his time on the Weinstein board.”

The lawsuit is trying to represent a category of women who confronted “unwanted sexual behavior that took several forms”, including “flashing, groping, fondling, harassing, battering, false imprisonment, sexual assault, attempted rape or finished rape”.

Katherine
Katherine Kendall. Photograph: Damian Dovarganes/AP

Actor Katherine Kendall, among the plaintiffs, alleged that when she was 23 years old, “Weinstein imprisoned her into his flat, threatened and attacked her”. Louisette Geiss also alleged that if she and Weinstein match to pitch him a script, Weinstein attacked and threatened her.

Another plaintiff, Sarah Ann Thomas, alleged that Weinstein Company employees ordered for her to join with Weinstein at his home and that he conducted the interview in his underwear, “embraced Thomas in a sexual fashion, and did not provide her the job if she did not take him upon his sexual propositions”.

Melissa Sagemiller alleged that Weinstein “imprisoned” her into his hotel room and later in an airplane, and threatened to attack her. The lawsuit said she had been meeting with Weinstein to discuss adjustments that Miramax was dispersing. Plaintiff Nannette Klatt alleged that Weinstein attacked her through an audition for a part in a Miramax production.

“Weinstein told Klatt that when she refused his advances and his orders, he would ruin her, and that he ultimately withdrew the offer he had given her to get a role because she would not accede to his improvements.”

The most recent New York Times investigation, printed on Tuesday, comprehensive claims of Weinstein’s “complicity system”, alleging that the producer covered up sexual misconduct accusations for decades by relying on strong relationships across sectors.

In reaction, Weinstein’s agents released a statement claiming that “no legal wrongdoing occurred”, saying: “Mr Weinstein has never ever committed an act of sexual attack, and it’s wrong and reckless to conflate claims of impolitic behaviour or consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of criminal behaviour.”

The statement added: “Nonetheless, to people offended by Mr Weinstein’s behaviour, he stays deeply apologetic.”

A joint announcement in the six plaintiffs stated, “If this is happening in Hollywood, it’s happening at the hospital, the supermarket, the accountant’s office, the mechanic’s garage, the faculty … anyplace,” including, “We hope this case sends a message to all companies sheltering abusers and their keys: the tide has turned.”

Contact the writer: sam.levin@theguardian.com

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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