Police on both sides of Atlantic look into claims against disgraced mogul
Beckinsale is latest to speak of inappropriate behaviour as Thompson says ‘he’s a predator’
Police on both sides of the Atlantic are investigating Harvey Weinstein as the scandal surrounding the film producer deepens.
In London, the Metropolitan police are assessing a sexual abuse allegation made against Weinstein. In his home town of New York, police are carrying out a “review” looking for new complaints.
Scotland Yard told the Guardian on Thursday: “The Met has been passed an allegation of sexual abuse by Merseyside police on Wednesday 11 October. The allegation will be assessed by officers from the child abuse and sexual offences command.” There is no indication the complaint relates to child abuse.
Lt John Grimpel of the NYPD said in a statement: “Based on information referenced in published news reports, the NYPD is conducting a review to determine if there are any additional complaints relating to the Harvey Weinstein matter.
“No filed complaints have been identified as of this time and as always, the NYPD encourages anyone who may have information pertaining to this matter to call the CrimeStoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.”
The British actor Kate Beckinsale joined the large group of women accusing Weinstein of inappropriate conduct yesterday in a deeply personal Instagram post.
Beckinsale, who starred in several Weinstein Company films, recalled her first meeting with the producer when she was 17. Like more than a dozen of the women who have now come forward to speak on Weinstein’s pattern of inappropriate behaviour, she recalls being sent to his hotel room for a business meeting where he greeted her in a bathrobe.
“A few years later he asked me if he had tried anything with me in that first meeting. I realised he couldn’t remember if he had assaulted me or not,” she wrote.
Beckinsale concluded her post with a plea to the industry: “Let’s stop allowing our young women to be sexual cannon fodder and let’s remember that Harvey is an emblem of a system that is sick, and that we have work to do.”
She follows a string of other high-profile actors, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Léa Seydoux and Cara Delevingne, who have accused the producer of sexual harassment or assault. Three women have accused Weinstein of rape.
Weinstein has said many of the details of those accounts are inaccurate, and has denied accusations of criminal sexual harassment, rape and sexual assault.
Sallie Hofmeister, a spokeswoman for Weinstein, said on Tuesday: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein … With respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.”
Last night the actor Emma Thompson told BBC Newsnight that Weinstein was the top of a ladder of harassment. She said: “What I find extraordinary is that this man is at the top of a very particular iceberg. I don’t think you can describe him as a ‘sex addict’. He’s a predator. That’s different. But what he’s the top of the ladder of is a system of harassment and belittling and bullying and interference and what my mother would have referred to in the olden days as ‘pestering’.”
“Is he pestering you?” That’s the word we used to use in the olden days, if you recall. This has been part of our world women’s world since time immemorial.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday in response to his wife’s decision to leave him, Weinstein said: “I support her decision, I am in counselling and perhaps, when I am better, we can rebuild. Over the last week, there has been a lot of pain for my family that I take responsibility for.”
He was reported to be heading for treatment in Arizona. Before he left, Weinstein told photographers in LA: “Guys, I’m not doing OK but I’m trying. I gotta get help … You know, we all make mistakes … second chance I hope.”
But he added: “And you know what? I’ve always been loyal to you guys,” he told the paparazzi photographers who captured his remarks, adding “not like those fucking pricks who treat you like shit. I’ve been the good guy.”
As pressure grew on celebrities to explain what they had known about Weinstein’s conduct over a period of decades, Jane Fonda said she had been told about accusations against him last year, and regretted not speaking out about them.
“I wish I had spoken out,” the Oscar winner told the BBC. “I will admit I should have been braver, I think from now on I will be when I hear such stories.
“I think it’s because if I had I would have had to out someone that wasn’t prepared to speak out. She subsequently has. If it had happened to me I would now.”
The NYPD’s reference to “additional complaints” may relate to the March 2015 case in which the model, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, accused Weinstein of groping her breasts and putting his hand up her skirt during a meeting at his office.
She filed a complaint with the NYPD, and met with Weinstein the next night, supported by an NYPD undercover operation and while wearing a wire, according to the New Yorker, recording the producer appearing to confess to groping her.
The NYPD said it investigated a misdemeanor sexual abuse complaint against Weinstein and the case was referred to the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The office decided not to file charges.
Questioned about that decision at a public appearance in New York on Wednesday, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr, said: “It’s obviously sickening. But at the end of the day we operate in a courtroom of law, not the court of public opinion, and our sex crime prosecutors made a determination that this was not going to be a provable case.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it would hold a meeting on Saturday to discuss allegations against Weinstein, as speculation grew it would follow the lead of its British equivalent, Bafta, in suspending his membership.
“The Academy finds the conduct described in the allegations against Harvey Weinstein to be repugnant, abhorrent, and antithetical to the high standards of the Academy and the creative community it represents,” it said in a statement.
Weinstein could face five to 25 years in prison on sexual assault charges if the latest abuse allegations are tried in criminal court, legal experts told the Guardian. Specifically, the claims described by Lucia Evans, a former aspiring actor, rise to the level of a felony rape under New York laws.
Because a criminal conviction could be difficult to achieve, however, prosecutors may be reluctant t to file criminal charges.
‘Let’s stop allowing our young women to be cannon fodder. Harvey’s an emblem of a sick system’ Kate Beckinsale
I thought might be capable of action and I realised their hands were tied and they weren’t willing to help me in the way I hoped, so I just buried it.
“You think you go into the film business because you think it is this free-thinking, liberally minded industry, but it actually could not be more opposite. It is as antiquated, as sexist and rigged as they come.
“What I’m interested in talking about is the aftermath of a trauma like that. I’ve had friends call this week after the New York Times pieces came out, some who are now really famous, who knew about it at the time and they say ‘this was the moment it changed for you’. It was massively damaging, it’s the single most damaging thing that’s happened in my life.”
She said that she had buried her memories of that incident decades ago until this week when dozens of actors, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cara Delevingne, had stepped forward with allegations of unwelcome sexual overtures and assault.
London and New York police have said they have opened unspecified investigations into Weinstein.
Weinstein has said he realised his behaviour with colleagues had “caused a lot of pain”. He said: “I sincerely apologise for it,” as the first allegations of sexual misconduct emerged a week ago.
He has subsequently unequivocally denied “any allegations of non-consensual sex” and a spokeswoman said that he never retaliated against women who refused his sexual advances.
“Mr Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.”
Kate Beckinsale in 2004 with Weinstein, whom she says acted inappropriately when she was 17 – and years later said he could not remember whether he had ‘tried anything’
Emma Thompson, top, said Harvey Weinstein is ‘at the top of the ladder of a system of harassment, belittling and bullying’. Jane Fonda said she was told of the producer’s behaviour last year and now regrets not speaking up at the time