LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A veteran Hollywood executive who was Rose McGowan's manager when the actress was allegedly raped by Harvey Weinstein has committed suicide, media reports citing her family said Thursday (Feb 8).
Relatives of Jill Messick, who was 50, said in a statement circulated to US media that she had battled depression for years, but had recently felt "victimised" by inaccurate reports of her role in the affair.
Messick, who worked for Addis-Wechsler - now Industry Entertainment - managed McGowan when the actress claimed she was attacked by Weinstein in a hot tub at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. Dozens of Hollywood women have accused the disgraced movie mogul of sexual misconduct.
McGowan is promoting an upcoming memoir and is one of the most prominent advocates in the #MeToo social media movement against sexual harassment. She told The New York Times in October that Messick had arranged the Weinstein meeting, which began in a hotel room. The revelation - and being further dragged into the headlines as part of an email exchange released by Weinstein - had a damaging effect on Messick's state of mind, the family said.
"The speed of disseminating information has carried mistruths about Jill as a person, which she was unable and unwilling to challenge," the family statement reads. "She became collateral damage in an already horrific story."
The family went on to accuse McGowan of making "slanderous statements against her," which the mother-of-two chose not to rebut for fear of undermining victims of sexual assault.
"She opted not to add to the feeding frenzy, allowing her name and her reputation to be sullied despite having done nothing wrong. She never chose to be a public figure, that choice was taken away from her," the statement said.
Messick went to Santa Barbara High School and graduated from the University of Southern California with a communications degree. She began producing films and television shows in 1999, and also worked as an executive at Paramount's Lorne Michaels Productions. Her movie production credits include She's All That, starring Freddie Prinze Jr, Mark Waters' Mean Girls, art biopic Frida, with Salma Hayek, and action film Masterminds with Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig and Owen Wilson.
McGowan's representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.