Fresh reports in the Los Angeles Times and the Financial Times detail how Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood superproducer accused of sexual misconduct by more than 50 women, used fashion-industry clout and legal maneuvering to find even more victims — and then keep them quiet.
The Los Angeles Times investigation features interviews with nearly a dozen fashion insiders and details of at least two previously unreported incidents. In all, 11 current and former fashion models accused Weinstein of a “wide range of sexual misconduct.”
As he cemented his kingpin status in Hollywood, Weinstein increasingly forayed into fashion, producing the long-running “Project Runway” TV show, which launched in 2004, and investing in 2007 in the Halston fashion label, where he became a board member.
This insider status brought him closer to potential prey, often young women early in their modeling careers.
Former Brazilian model Juliana De Paula said Weinstein groped her and forced her to kiss other models at his loft in New York in 2007. When she resisted, he chased her naked through the apartment, only stopping once she smashed a glass and threatened to cut him with it.
Weinstein’s spokeswoman said the account was a “fabrication” and added that Weinstein has “unequivocally denied” allegations of nonconsensual sex with other accusers.
Other incidents described in the Los Angeles Times story include an Australian model locking herself in a hotel bathroom to escape an unwanted massage from a naked Weinstein and Weinstein persuading a British model to switch to a fashion agency where he had more connections, which the woman believes “was a control thing.”
Another, more formal mechanism gave Weinstein control over at least one alleged victim: a non-disclosure agreement.
Zelda Perkins, one of Weinstein’s former assistants in London, is breaking 19 years of silence and a non-disclosure agreement to describe the years of sexual harassment she endured working for the producer, the Financial Times reported Monday.
The first time the two were alone together, Weinstein, who often worked out of his hotel room in London, came out in his underwear and asked Perkins for a massage, she said, adding the behavior only escalated as time went on.
“This was his behavior on every occasion I was alone with him,” Perkins told the Financial Times. “I often had to wake him up in the hotel in the mornings and he would try to pull me into bed.”
Weinstein, through a spokesperson, again said he “unequivocally denied” any accusations of nonconsensual sex. Perkins and Weinstein’s lawyers settled in 1998 on 250,000 pounds (about $339,000 in today’s dollars) in damages for Perkins and another woman who’d accused Weinstein of sexual assault.
As part of the settlement, the women signed a non-disclosure agreement, which meant they couldn’t speak publicly about the accusations, but Perkins told the Financial Times she was breaking the agreement anyway to advocate for women in her situation.
“Unless somebody does this, there won’t be a debate about how egregious these agreements are and the amount of duress that victims are put under,” she said.