WASHINGTON • More than 40 women have come forward to accuse Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of inappropriate behaviour and he has mostly stayed quiet.
That changed after an op-ed last Thursday for The New York Times, in which Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o detailed a pattern of predatory behaviour Weinstein had directed at her, starting when she was a student at the Yale School of Drama.
Last Friday, he issued a statement in response to her essay, calling her out by her first name and stating - as she had done in her piece - that she was the one who had invited him to New York to see her Broadway show.
"Mr Weinstein has a different recollection of the events, but believes Lupita is a brilliant actress and a major force for the industry," a representative for Weinstein told E! News in a statement. "Last year, she sent a personal invitation to Mr Weinstein to see her in her Broadway show Eclipsed."
The second sentence of the statement has drawn outrage from people who accuse Weinstein of victimblaming.
But the statement as a whole has raised eyebrows from many, who suggest there is a racial element to singling Nyong'o out.
Aside from an Oct 5 interview with New York Post, in which Weinstein insinuated that actress Ashley Judd had levelled accusations against him because she was "going through a tough time right now", his team has hewed to generic rebuttals that do not name the accusers.
"Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein," read one such statement, after model Cara Delevingne joined the list of accusers.
Nyong'o is, so far, the only black woman to have accused Weinstein of inappropriate sexual harassment.
In the op-ed, she recounted two separate occasions in which he made inappropriate advances at her. One day, she said, he invited her to his home in Westport, Connecticut, ostensibly to screen a film with his family. Before the movie ended, he led her into his bedroom and said he wanted to give her a massage.
What followed, she said, were encounters over the next several years, in which she continued to assert her boundaries, only to have them pushed or disregarded by him. They culminated in a meal in New York in which he propositioned her - and then, when she turned him down, hinted that her acting career would suffer, she wrote.
Since the scandal exploded on Oct 5, Weinstein has been fired from The Weinstein Co, which he co-founded.
He has also physically assaulted multiple men. The television series Entourage, for instance, parodied his volatile outbursts through a character called "Harvey Weingard".
Last week, The Wall Street Journal described a Weinstein Co executive conference gone bad: "In about 2011, after an argument over how to allocate the studio's resources between their respective movies, Harvey Weinstein punched his brother in the face in front of about a dozen other Weinstein Co executives, knocking him to the ground, said two people who were present."
His younger brother and the company's co-founder, Bob Weinstein, is now scrambling to save the studio. But one woman, television writer Amanda Segel, came forward last week to say that Bob Weinstein harassed her.
The allegations and public discussion of Harvey Weinstein's behaviour have prompted scores of people outside Hollywood circles to share their own experiences with sexual harassment and assault on social media using the viral hashtag #MeToo.
WASHINGTON POST, NYTIMES