Sexual harassment allegations

Weinstein takes leave, fallout begins

LOS ANGELES • The fallout has started even as Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein apologised on Thursday and said he was taking leave after a New York Times report accused him of sexual harassment over several decades.

Trade publication Variety said the board of directors of the Weinstein Company would meet by yesterday evening to decide whether he would helm the company.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, said he would be giving away the US$5,600 (S$7,650) Weinstein donated to his re-election campaign over the years. And United States President Donald Trump's eldest son, Mr Donald Trump Jr, blasted Weinstein after the latter said he would channel his anger - and not hurt others at work - towards the National Rifle Association and the President.

On Thursday, Weinstein conceded that "the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain".

He had hired therapists and planned to take leave of absence "to deal with this issue head on".

Ms Lisa Bloom, one of his lawyers and a specialist in sexual harassment cases, told Agence France-Presse that her 65-year-old client "denies many of the accusations as patently false".

"He has acknowledged mistakes he has made. He is reading books and going to therapy. He is an old dinosaur learning new ways."

Another lawyer, Mr Charles Harder, said his firm was planning to sue the Times over the story, claiming it was "saturated with false and defamatory statements".

According to the report, Weinstein's allegedly inappropriate behaviour goes back nearly three decades and he has reached settlements with at least eight women.

His accusers are mainly young women hoping to break into the industry and include celebrities such as actresses Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd.

Judd recalled being invited to his suite at a posh hotel two decades ago expecting a breakfast meeting to discuss business. Instead, he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if she could give him a massage or watch him shower.

Many in the industry spoke out on Thursday, expressing support for the alleged victims.

"The women who chose to speak about their experience of harassment by Harvey Weinstein deserve our awe," actress Lena Dunham tweeted.

In his statement, Weinstein appeared to justify his alleged misconduct, saying he had come of age in the 1960s and 1970s "when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different".

His movies that bagged Oscars over the years include Good Will Hunting (1997) and Gangs Of New York (2002).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'Weinstein takes leave, fallout begins'. Print Edition | Subscribe