Why the open se­cret over We­in­stein?

Daily News - - WORLD -

NEW YORK: As the grim scope of the al­le­ga­tions sur­round­ing Har­vey We­in­stein con­tin­ued to ex­pand, the or­gan­i­sa­tion that be­stows the Academy Awards moved to dis­tance it­self from the film mogul yes­ter­day.

Ac­tor Ben Af­fleck was also forced to de­fend his own pre­vi­ous ac­tions, and scru­tiny fell on who knew what about We­in­stein’s be­hav­iour over the decades it al­legedly took place.

A key and po­ten­tially volatile com­po­nent of Tues­day’s New Yorker ex­pose was the claim that “a cul­ture of com­plic­ity” ex­isted at both The We­in­stein Co and his pre­vi­ous film com­pany, the Walt Dis­ney-owned Mi­ra­max. “Nu­mer­ous peo­ple through­out the com­pa­nies (were) fully aware of his be­hav­iour but ei­ther abet­ting it or look­ing the other way,” the mag­a­zine re­ported.

Fur­ther scru­tiny has fol­lowed the con­tention that We­in­stein’s con­duct was “an open se­cret” in Hol­ly­wood.

Af­fleck was called out on Tues­day by ac­tress Rose McGowan. In a tweet, McGowan ac­cused Af­fleck of ly­ing after is­su­ing a state­ment that he was “sad­dened and an­gry” about the We­in­stein rev­e­la­tions.

McGowan sug­gested Af­fleck knew decades ago about We­in­stein’s be­hav­iour.

Ac­tress Hi­larie Bur­ton also re­newed an ear­lier al­le­ga­tion that Af­fleck groped her in 2003. Yes­ter­day Af­fleck tweeted an apol­ogy: “I acted in­ap­pro­pri­ately to­ward Ms Bur­ton and I sin­cerely apologise.”

The Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences an­nounced yes­ter­day that its Board of Gov­er­nors would hold a spe­cial meet­ing on Satur­day to dis­cuss the al­le­ga­tions “and any ac­tions war­ranted by the academy”.

The film academy called We­in­stein’s al­leged con­duct “re­pug­nant”.

“These al­leged ac­tions are an­ti­thet­i­cal to hu­man de­cency. These al­le­ga­tions come as an ut­ter sur­prise to the board. Any sug­ges­tion that the board had knowl­edge of this con­duct is false,” the four-mem­ber board said.

The board, how­ever, in­cludes We­in­stein’s brother, Bob, the com­pany’s other co-chair­man. And sev­eral board mem­bers ear­lier re­signed in the wake of the ini­tial al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

That re­port, pub­lished Thurs­day by the New York Times, also de­tailed hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in al­leged set­tle­ments. It’s not known if We­in­stein made the pay­ments per­son­ally or if ei­ther The We­in­stein Co or Mi­ra­max did.

“Given all the in­for­ma­tion that’s com­ing out now, I would find it highly im­plau­si­ble that the board was not aware,” said An­gela Red­dock-Wright, an at­tor­ney spe­cial­is­ing in em­ploy­ment and labour law who has rep­re­sented busi­nesses in ha­rass­ment suits.

“There are just too many al­le­ga­tions here. Un­less there were set­tle­ments paid out by We­in­stein from his own per­sonal money, set­tle­ments over a cer­tain dol­lar value would have pre­sum­ably been ap­proved by the board of di­rec­tors.”

At­tor­ney Ann Fromholz said that given We­in­stein’s po­si­tion, The We­in­stein Co would be li­able over sex­ual ha­rass­ment claims even if they weren’t aware. – AP

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