For Harvey Weinstein, life in limbo

Many of  Harvey Weinstein's accusers, and the wave of people who have spoken out against sexual assault and harassment alongside them, have questioned why he hasn't been arrested.
Many of Harvey Weinstein's accusers, and the wave of people who have spoken out against sexual assault and harassment alongside them, have questioned why he hasn't been arrested. PHOTO: AFP

(NYTIMES) - Harvey Weinstein has been waking up early, checking in with his East Coast lawyers and then going down to a juice shop where he orders coffee and a green detox mix with kale and cucumber. He has lived with a roommate who was his sponsor during a truncated stint in sex rehab, sharing a 1,700-square-foot (158 sq m) furnished apartment in a verdant glass complex convenient to a midrange shopping mall, said local residents and associates familiar with his circumstances, who would only describe Weinstein's daily routine without attribution.

Ever since the fall, after reports by The New York Times and The New Yorker revealed decades of allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Weinstein, the Hollywood megaproducer has become a pariah in the Beverly Hills and Manhattan quarters where he once held court.

Many of his accusers, and the wave of people who have spoken out against sexual assault and harassment alongside them, have questioned why Weinstein hasn't been arrested. "I want to see him in jail," Jennifer Lawrence told 60 Minutes in an interview that aired in late February.

He has spent much of his time in purgatory in Scottsdale, Arizona. (On Friday, a representative for Weinstein said he had been in and out of Arizona and seeking treatment for sex addiction at various locations across the US.) Rather than attending the Oscars in glory as he did for so many years - the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences banned Weinstein in October - Weinstein has huddled in this corner of Maricopa County as his empire crumbles and prosecutors in New York, Los Angeles and London investigate potential criminal cases against him. (Through representatives, he has steadily denied allegations of assault and harassment.) Weinstein joins a tiny cadre of extremely recognisable celebrities, including OJ Simpson and Bill Cosby, who have been tried and more or less found guilty in the court of public opinion. Simpson and Cosby went on to high-profile criminal trials and, despite a not-guilty verdict for Simpson and a mistrial for Cosby, moved from infamy to a starkly more complicated reality. Weinstein has found himself, for now, in limbo.

His 5,000-square-foot, red brick New York City townhouse has often been dark. According to Variety, his West Hollywood Tudor cottage in California is up for rent at US$7,495 (S$9,869) a month. He sold his waterfront estate in Amagansett, New York, at a roughly US$2 million loss and has agreed on a settlement likely well north of US$15 million with his wife, Georgina Chapman, who sought a divorce after the October revelations.

For months Weinstein's representatives have said, without elaboration, that he is seeking therapy for sex addiction in Arizona. "His therapy must be working," Uma Thurman told The Times after Weinstein made a rare admission that he had apologised to her after what she described as an "attack" at a London hotel in the mid-1990s.

Some of the therapy took place an hour outside Scottsdale in Wickenburg (population: 6,300) at Gentle Path at the Meadows: an inpatient, men-only 38-acre compound of adobe cabins and cactuses. Previous clients include Kevin Spacey and Tiger Woods. The price? US$58,000 for 45 days.

"It's an incredible amount of money," said Allan Benham, the executive director of Gentle Path, who would not confirm that Weinstein was a patient and declined to comment on any particular patients. "People think, 'That must be a spa and a really high-priced hotel,' but it's anything but." Weinstein didn't last that entire 45 days, local observers said.

To give a general sense of its programme, the facility gave The Times a rare glimpse inside. The daily schedule is rigorous, earning the 28-bed facility the nickname Brutal Path. Patients wake up at 6.30 am. and begin the day with meditation. Breakfast (organic, farm-raised) starts at 7.15. A "community meeting" where staff and patients can talk about their issues starts at 8.15.

Individual appointments with trauma therapists, dietitians, "brain centre neurofeedback" and other clinicians and study hall to work on clinical assignments - including homework about how patients' addictions have hurt others and an "arousal template" to chronicle dangerous patterns - runs from 9.15 to 10.

Group therapy sessions then go until lunch (noon to 1 pm), followed by two hours of educational lectures. From 3 to 5, patients have individual appointments with psychiatrists, psychologists and other therapists. From 4 to 5, they can choose from "ancillary activities" like art therapy, yoga or tai chi. Dinner begins at 5, with 12-step meetings at 6 pm. After 7, it's lights out.

Speaking generally and not about Weinstein, Benham said celebrities can bring added challenges. "They come back a little more entitled than other patients," he said. "The first thing we have to do is to show them they're just like everybody else." After completing the 45-day stay at Gentle Path, patients are advised to attend multiple types of rigorous outpatient treatment, to continue rebuilding shattered lives.

But rather than finish the programme and take part in intensive outpatient sessions, Weinstein has, for the most part, seemingly whittled away much of his time in Arizona, dabbling in outpatient classes at a related facility and dealing with his legal challenges, said three people who have heard from Weinstein in recent months. And through his presence, he has provoked the ire of Scottsdale and neighbouring Paradise Valley's retirees and vacationers, some of who have been complaining about their famous neighbour on social media.

Weinstein has lost weight. He still works his Rolodex - or at least tries to. But in the Hollywood caste system, the publicists-for-hire, the striving producers, the up-and-coming directors who used to endure his verbal lashings and entertain his every whim now mostly don't pick up, according to several such people who said they avoid his calls.

The man behind Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare In Love has already made some efforts to produce his most challenging film yet, these people say: a documentary designed to pave the way for a comeback. So far, no one will touch it. A representive for Weinstein said a "long list" of producers and others have reached out to him about how to best to tell his side and story.

Before Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale and dozens more women came forward with accusations against Weinstein, his net worth was estimated at US$300 million. But paying his legal teams, led by Blair Berk in Hollywood and Benjamin Brafman in Manhattan, and his ongoing divorce, have chipped away at that fortune, said several people close to Weinstein.

Last week, The Weinstein Co., once a crown jewel of moviemaking, said that it would file for bankruptcy, after the collapse of sale talks with an investor group.

The failed deal followed a lawsuit filed last month by Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, intended to block the fire sale of The Weinstein Co. The suit includes new details about the studio's "toxic environment for women" and Weinstein's "unlawful conduct", including using female employees to help him pursue sexual targets and to procure and administer erectile dysfunction medication.

As for potential criminal charges against Weinstein and those who covered up his conduct, Schneiderman told reporters on Feb 12: "To the extent there is any criminal conduct, we will be referring that to the DA's office." Several legal experts interpreted the 38-page civil rights complaint as a sign that criminal prosecution may be stalled. The New York Police Department has gathered evidence regarding the rape accusations made by the actress Paz de la Huerta (charges Weinstein has, through his representatives, denied). In November, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said in a statement that his office wasn't ready to charge Weinstein.

"They have statute-of-limitation issues, so what's the next best thing to show the public that they did something?" said Louis J. Shapiro, a state and federal criminal defence attorney in Los Angeles, although there can be other reasons Weinstein has not been charged. "Give it to the attorney general's office and do a civil action." (A spokeswoman for Schneiderman disputed this characterisation, saying that there was no coordination between the civil and criminal investigations.) In February, the Los Angeles Police Department referred three potential criminal cases to the district attorney's office. In Britain, nine women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault against Weinstein.

Weinstein also faces additional civil suits, including one filed by the British actress Kadian Noble, who is suing him for sex trafficking, and a class-action civil suit filed against The Weinstein Co. for violating racketeering laws in conspiring to cover up Weinstein's alleged serial sexual misconduct.

In the meantime, the squat, dry landscape of Arizona has been just what the defence ordered. Back in January, a small panic ensued before the red carpet was unfurled at the Golden Globes, when false rumours spread that Weinstein was in Beverly Hills and staying at the Montage Hotel, where one of his accusers alleges he raped her.

"A good lawyer like Ben Brafman has almost certainly instructed Harvey Weinstein to lay low and stay completely out of the public eye," said Mathew S. Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor and Los Angeles-based litigator.

In January, a diner at the high-end Elements restaurant at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort in Paradise Valley punched Weinstein in the face as he ate with his sober coach, as TMZ reported. Local residents have made "Where's Harvey?" rumours something of a sport - recent sightings put him at an Olive Garden just before Valentine's Day.

Having so many high-profile figures like Weinstein, Spacey and Anthony Weiner undergo treatment for sex addiction has brought additional scrutiny to a medical field in which scientific evidence is scant.

"There has certainly been no acceptance of this diagnosis in any of these classification systems of mental or physical disorders," said Dr Eli Coleman, director of the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota.

In August, the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases is expected to add sexual compulsivity to its updated list of disorders, a representative of the Meadows said.

In 2016, Kohlberg & Co., a private equity firm, paid US$136 million to buy Meadows Behavioural Healthcare, the parent company of Gentle Path and other related treatment centres. Last year, the Meadows introduced Willow House, an all-women facility.

In Weinstein's case, his frequent sightings (he is usually in a black T-shirt and fedora), including at an upscale Italian restaurant in Scottsdale and a cafe in Phoenix that touts its "refined culinary influences of Los Angeles, New York and London", have cast a pall on the #MeToo movement and added to the collective eye rolls about his undergoing sex addiction therapy.

"As frustrating as it is, and in some ways undermining of the #MeToo movement, one has to really let the criminal process take its course," said Rebecca Roiphe, professor of law at New York Law School, and a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan district attorney's office.


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