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The Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment allegations: all the key players

From actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan to lawyers Lisa Bloom and Charles Harder.

2017 Weinstein Company And Netflix Golden Globes After Party - Arrivals
Harvey Weinstein and designer Georgina Chapman, his wife, attend a Weinstein Company party.
Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images
Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

The New York Times on Thursday broke a sweeping story recounting nearly three decades’ worth of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood. The story details multiple instances of sexual assault that Weinstein allegedly committed against actresses, assistants, and models; it also reveals that Weinstein has settled lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault at least eight times since 1990. The allegations were made by several actresses Weinstein has worked with in the past, including Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, as well as numerous current and former Weinstein Company employees.

The details are somewhat whiplash-inducing. Weinstein, who was given the chance to respond to the Times’s report prior to its publication, offered a bizarre statement in which he claimed repentance but blamed his alleged behavior (the most recently reported instance of which occurred two years ago) on his coming of age in a different era. He also misquoted Jay-Z, emphasized his activism against the NRA, praised high-powered attorney Lisa Bloom and her team of lawyers for acting as a “tutor” in correcting his behavior, and promoted a scholarship foundation for women directors in Hollywood.

The Times published its exposé one day after the Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Weinstein had hired a team of lawyers “to fight planned articles that are said to be about his personal behavior” in both the New York Times and the New Yorker. Then, shortly after the Times’s exposé and Weinstein’s response were published, his attorney Charles Harder — best known as the attorney who spearheaded Hulk Hogan’s 2016 lawsuit against Gawkerannounced that Weinstein was suing the Times.

If your head is spinning from all these names, that’s understandable. To help you keep everyone straight, here’s a guide to all key players known to be involved so far.

The accused: Hollywood megaproducer Harvey Weinstein

Tech And Media Elites Attend Allen And Company Annual Meetings In Idaho Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Harvey Weinstein is the co-founder, with his brother Bob Weinstein, of the Miramax film studio; the brothers are also the co-owners of the Weinstein Company, one of the most important production companies in Hollywood. He’s been dubbed multiple times as the most powerful man in Hollywood, and his ruthless production style has become a standard part of movie culture.

Weinstein is accused of a long history of predatory behavior, including alleged sexual harassment toward actresses he was considering for roles in his films and women who worked for him. He reportedly enforced a company-wide “code of silence,” according to the Times, regarding his problematic behavior; this code has been described as essentially an open secret.

After the Times published its exposé, Weinstein gave his first interview on the subject to the New York Post’s Page Six. “They spent six months researching this article then they gave us just 24 hours to answer it,” he complained. He also stated, “I can’t talk specifics, but I put myself in positions that were stupid, I want to respect women and do things better,” and that “I want to be able to look at the people I have hurt and say, ‘I am sorry, I have changed and I’ve progressed.’”

The alleged victims: at least eight women who were reportedly assaulted or harassed by Weinstein between 1990 and 2015

Ashley Judd at the 2017 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards
Ashley Judd went on the record to accuse Weinstein.
Photo by Duane Prokop/Getty Images for Muhammad Ali Center

The litany of accusations against Weinstein is hard to follow. Here’s a brief timeline and list of the major incidents and names cited in the Times report.

1990: an unidentified former Miramax assistant

According to a former Miramax employee, a young assistant “left the company abruptly after an encounter with Harvey Weinstein” and received a settlement from Weinstein for an unspecified incident in 1990.

1991: Laura Madden, a production assistant who worked at Miramax for a decade

Madden told the Times that Weinstein consistently “prodded her for massages at hotels,” a common theme among the sources the Times’s reporters spoke with. On one occasion, she said she locked herself in his hotel bathroom, sobbing.

1996: actress Ashley Judd

Judd is known for her starring roles in such films as Kiss the Girls and Double Jeopardy, as well as for her liberal political activism. She recounted for the Times how Weinstein harassed her while she was filming Kiss the Girls, inviting her to his hotel room and asking her for a massage, then inviting her to watch him shower. Judd had first gone public with her allegations in a 2015 interview with Variety during which she discussed the experience without naming the producer involved. Judd described Weinstein’s behavior as “coercive bargaining”; “I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask,” she told the Times.

1997: actress Rose McGowan

'Dawn' New York Screening And Q & A Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

McGowan is perhaps best known for her longtime role in the TV series Charmed. According to the Times, McGowan reached a “previously undisclosed” $100,000 settlement with Weinstein in 1997, over an incident that occurred in a hotel room. Though McGowan declined to talk to the Times about the incident in question, she has indirectly referred to it over the years, obliquely discussing it as a rape in 2016 and claiming that most of Hollywood had supported her rapist, whom she indirectly alleged to be Weinstein.

After the Times published its exposé, she tweeted a vague message of admonishment:

1998: Zelda Perkins, a Miramax production assistant

According to unnamed former colleagues of Perkins’s who spoke to the Times, Perkins allegedly confronted Weinstein about his behavior toward her and other women at the company. She allegedly threatened to sue him or “go public”; a Miramax lawyer was reportedly tasked with negotiating a settlement.

2014: Emily Nestor, a Weinstein Company temp employee

Nestor had been temping at the Weinstein Company for only one day when Weinstein allegedly offered to boost her career in return for sexual favors, according to the Times. She declined and reportedly complained of his behavior to colleagues, who later passed the information on to senior executives at the company. An internal Weinstein Company document cited by the Times describes Nestor’s encounter with Weinstein as follows: “She said he was very persistent and focused though she kept saying no for over an hour.”

2015: Ambra Battilana, an aspiring model and actress; and Lauren O’Connor, an employee of the Weinstein Company

Ambra Battilana’s encounter with Weinstein is one of the few that had been made public prior to the Times’s exposé. In March 2015, she was reportedly summoned to Weinstein’s office on a Friday night to discuss her career. According to a police report cited by the Times, Battilana said she was assaulted by Weinstein, who “grabbed her breasts after asking if they were real and put his hands up her skirt.” Weinstein later claimed that Battilana had set him up, according to colleagues of his who were interviewed by the Times. The Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, later declined to press charges, and according to the Times, “made a payment” to Battilana. On October 5, the International Business Times reported that after Vance dropped the charges, he received $10,000 from Weinstein’s lawyer.

Lauren O’Connor is a former employee of the Weinstein Company who was involved in casting discussions with many actresses shortly after they were invited to “private appointments” with Weinstein in his hotel room. In 2015, O’Connor penned a memo to executives alleging “a toxic environment for women” at the company. The memo cited numerous incidents of Weinstein harassing or coercing women who worked for him and noted the incredible power imbalance inherent in such situations. O’Connor expressed fear that Weinstein was using her and other female employees to “facilitate liaisons with ‘vulnerable women who hope he will get them work.’” That same year, Weinstein allegedly reached a settlement with O’Connor.

The witnesses: at least three current and former employees of Miramax and the Weinstein Company

Among those interviewed by the Times were a handful of people within the Miramax/Weinstein fold who spoke of being fully aware of the “open secret” of Weinstein’s behavior:

Kathy DeClesis, a former assistant to Bob Weinstein at Miramax during the ’90s, told the Times that Weinstein’s “inner circle” was well aware of his behavior.

Mark Gill, the former president of Miramax, confirmed to the Times that Weinstein’s behavior was an open secret, even as Weinstein was involved in outward displays of feminism and progressive support for women. Gill told the Times that women would often attend meetings with Weinstein in pairs so they wouldn’t have to be alone with him.

Lance Maerov, a current member of the Weinstein Company’s board, claimed to the Times to have successfully pushed for an expanded code of conduct at the company dealing with sexual harassment, in response to O’Connor’s memo to the executives.

The supporters: a team of lawyers that Weinstein has hired to fight the allegations made against him

Lisa Bloom is a noted attorney who’s best known for bringing empire-toppling sexual assault charges against Bill O’Reilly. She’s also the daughter of the famed feminist Gloria Allred. But on the subject of Weinstein, she’s chosen to play defense — much to her mother’s dismay. In a statement to the Times, Bloom described Weinstein as “an old dinosaur learning new tricks” and painted him as a troubled man trying to change his ways and evolve through therapy and listening to women. In his full statement to the Times, Weinstein said, “I’ve asked Lisa Bloom to tutor me and she’s put together a team of people.” Weinstein is currently producing a film adaptation of her book.

Charles Harder steps into the Weinstein fray fresh off being lauded as “the highest-profile media lawyer in America” following his handling of Hulk Hogan’s 2016 lawsuit against Gawker Media. With no apparent trace of irony, Harder announced on October 5 that Weinstein would be suing the New York Times in response to the Times’s exposé, and that any proceeds from the lawsuit would be donated to women’s organizations.

“It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by nine different eyewitnesses,” Harder told the Hollywood Reporter. “We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish.”

"We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting," the Times responded.