Louisette Geiss, a former film actress and screenwriter, is the latest in a long list of women (which includes A-list stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie) to go public with allegations that she was sexually harassed by Hollywood big-wig Harvey Weinstein. Geiss and her attorney Gloria Allred held a press conference in Los Angeles earlier today to share her story.
In 2008, Geiss had dreams of getting a script she'd written produced. She said she met Weinstein first at the Cannes Film Festival, and took a meeting with him in Utah, where they were both attending the Sundance Film Festival. They had dinner together, she recalled during the press conference; when he asked to continue their meeting in his office adjacent to his hotel room, she said she told him, aware of the hotel security camera above them, "'I will take this meeting if you shake my hand that you will not touch me.' And he shook my hand and laughed it off."
Initially, the meeting went well, Geiss recalled. But about 30 minutes in, Geiss said Weinstein excused himself to go to the bathroom. "He returned in nothing but a robe with the front open, and he was naked. He told me to keep talking about my film and that he was going to hop in his hot tub that was adjacent to the room, just steps away. When I finished my pitch, I was obviously nervous, and he kept asking me to watch him masturbate. I told him I was leaving."
Geiss said the producer made promises to help her in her career, but only if she watched him masturbate. She quickly left. "Over the years," she told a conference room of reporters, "when people ask me why I got out of the movie industry, I would tell them this story."
The press conference came just hours after the New Yorker published an explosive report, the result of a 10-month investigation, detailing the accounts of 13 women who allege Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them at one point or another over the past two decades. One of them was Lucia Stoller, now Lucia Evans. The former aspiring actress told the New Yorker that she met the studio executive at a New York club in 2004, and dodged invitations to meet him late at night. Finally, one day she agreed to a meeting at the Miramax office in Tribeca. Although their meeting started off with talks of scripts and potential roles, it quickly turned ugly.
"At that point, after that, is when he assaulted me. He forced me to perform oral sex on him," Evans told the New Yorker. "I said, over and over, 'I don't want to do this, stop, don't,'" she said. "I tried to get away, but maybe I didn't try hard enough. I didn't want to kick him or fight him."
In the end, Evans continued in her interview, "He's a big guy. He overpowered me." Eventually, she said, "I just sort of gave up. That's the most horrible part of it, and that's why he's been able to do this for so long to so many women: people give up, and then they feel like it's their fault."
The New Yorker story—which went on to share Italian actress Asia Argento's account of being raped when he forcefully performed oral sex on her; Mia Sorvino admitting how scared and intimidated she felt of the man who helped her in her career; and the "textbook sexual harassment" experienced by a temporary front-desk personal assistant—is the second report in less than a week to shed light on Weinstein's predatory behavior. On Thursday, an exposé published in the New York Times revealed that Weinstein settled with at least eight women who had accused him of sexual harassment.
Actress Ashley Judd was one of the women interviewed in the Times piece, though she reportedly never entered any sort of settlement agreement with Weinstein. Twenty years ago, she told the paper, she was invited to meet the producer at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what she thought was a breakfast business meeting. Instead of discussing her burgeoning career, she said she found herself navigating a number of uncomfortable requests, including whether the Weinstein could give her a massage or shoulder rub. She told the Times she managed to sidestep his advances and found an excuse to leave his suite, she said.
Shortly after these initial allegations came to light last Thursday, Weinstein sent the Times a statement, in part writing: "I came of age in the 60's and 70's, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. I have since learned it's not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone."
Hours later, he lambasted the media outlet for what he called "reckless reporting," and promised to sue. According to Variety, several of his "key allies" have since distanced themselves from him, including his advisor Lisa Bloom—who is also the daughter of Allred, Geiss's attorney.
Prior to Geiss sharing her story, Allred noted that she'd been contacted by a number of women who alleged they'd been sexually harassed by Weinstein. In her remarks, Allred said her client was speaking out because although Weinstein had been been fired from his own company, many of his alleged victims have yet to see justice. For many women, she said, the time to file a lawsuit had passed in their respective states.
Allred said one way Weinstein could resolve these allegations would be to "agree to not exert the statute of limitations." She added: "It is not enough for him to acknowledge pain that he has caused and to seek therapy."
Correction: A previous version of this story had "assault" in the headline. It has been corrected to read "harassment."