** NOTE: This article contains sexually explicit language and may be disturbing to some readers. Please read at your own discretion. **
In a lawsuit against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, his brother Bob Weinstein and The Weinstein Company (TWC), New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman alleges the company hired a group of female employees to act as Weinstein’s “wing women.”
These women, says the lawsuit, were enlisted to aid Weinstein in his alleged sexual conquests. Among other things, they were supposedly required to have a copy of the so-called “Bible,” a guide of Weinstein’s likes and dislikes. The “Bible” also allegedly listed directions for assistants on how to arrange his frequent “personals,” a code word used to describe his sexual encounters.
Weinstein has been accused by more than 100 women around the world of sexual harassment and assault. Through a representative, he has repeatedly denied all allegations of non-consensual sex. He is currently at a rehab facility in Arizona.
In court papers filed in Manhattan on Sunday, Schneiderman says the Weinstein Co. “repeatedly broke New York law by failing to protect its employees from pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and discrimination.”
According to the lawsuit, TWC fostered “a years-long gender-based hostile work environment, a pattern of quid pro quo sexual harassment and routine misuse of corporate resources for unlawful ends that extended from in or about 2005 through at least in or about October 2017.”
Schneiderman says any sale of the company “must ensure that victims will be compensated” and that employees will be protected.
This complaint comes after four months of investigation into the Weinsteins and TWC, and just as the company was nearing sale for US$500 million.
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Among the specific allegations against TWC is the employ of these “wing women.” The lawsuit claims some members of this group were flown to New York from London and directed to “teach” Weinstein’s assistants how to dress and appear more attractive.
A second group of assistants, reads the complaint, “were compelled to take various steps to further Harvey Weinstein’s regular sexual activity, including by contacting ‘Friends of Harvey’ and other prospective sexual partners via text message or phone at his direction and maintaining space on his calendar for sexual activity.”
The lawsuit further alleges that a third group of employees were forced to facilitate Weinstein’s sexual conquests, and for those women who met Weinstein’s favour, to help follow through on his promise of employment — this “demeaned and humiliated them, contributing to the hostile work environment.”
In the complaint, at least two female employees of TWC claim they were sexually harassed by Weinstein; one says she was summoned to Weinstein’s hotel room in 2015 to set up phones for the next day, but instead found the producer wearing only a bathrobe, requesting a massage. She says she said no, but was cajoled into doing it for fear of losing her employment.
A second former employee claims Weinstein exposed himself to her — again in a hotel room — and laid on the bed naked while she was forced to take dictation.
In a statement, Weinstein’s lawyer Ben Brafman said a fair investigation by Schneiderman would prove that many of the allegations against his client were without merit.
“While Mr. Weinstein’s behaviour was not without fault, there certainly was no criminality, and at the end of the inquiry it will be clear that Harvey Weinstein promoted more women to key executive positions than any other industry leader and there was zero discrimination at either Miramax or TWC,” Brafman said. “If the purpose of the inquiry is to encourage reform throughout the film industry, Mr. Weinstein will embrace the investigation. If the purpose, however, is to scapegoat Mr. Weinstein, he will vigorously defend himself.”
You can read the entire complaint here.
— With files from The Associated Press and Reuters
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.