Who else knew of We­in­stein’s be­hav­ior?

Num­ber of sex abuse claims, set­tle­ments raises is­sue of film ex­ecs’ knowl­edge

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - News - By Jake Coyle

NEW YORK — As the grim scope of Har­vey We­in­stein’s al­leged sex­ual abuse has con­tin­ued to ex­pand, at­ten­tion is turn­ing to the ques­tion of who knew about the film’s mogul’s be­hav­ior.

A key and po­ten­tially volatile com­po­nent of Tues­day’s New Yorker ex­pose was the claim that “a cul­ture of com­plic­ity” has 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 be­hav­ior 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. Fo­cus has turned, in part, to not just the work­place en­vi­ron­ments We­in­stein op­er­ated in, but the stars who may have had some knowl­edge of We­in­stein’s al­leged be­hav­ior but who failed to raise any alarms.

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

Ac­tress Hi­larie Bur­ton also re­newed an ear­lier al­le­ga­tion that Af­fleck groped her dur­ing a visit to MTV’s TRL, which she was host­ing in 2003. A Twit­ter user re­called the in­ci­dent, not­ing “ev­ery­one for­got.” Bur­ton replied, “I didn’t forget.”

Af­fleck tweeted an apol­ogy on Wednesday: “I acted in­ap­pro­pri­ately to­ward Ms. Bur­ton and I sin­cerely apol­o­gize.”

Mean­while, model and ac­tress Cara Delev­ingne joined the long list of We­in­stein ac­cusers.

She said in a lengthy In­sta­gram post that We­in­stein brought up sex­ual sub­jects dur­ing more than one busi­ness meet­ing and tried to get Delev­ingne to kiss a woman in front of him. She said she did not par­tic­i­pate and left the room.

She said she sub­se­quently ap­peared in a We­in­stein Co. film and added that she “felt aw­ful that I did the movie.” She says she was afraid to speak out at the time of the in­ci­dent be­cause she feared she may have some­how been re­spon­si­ble and didn’t want to hurt his fam­ily.

Delev­ingne said in a sec­ond post Wednesday that abuse of women by pow­er­ful men hap­pens in ev­ery in­dus­try. She urged vic­tims to speak out.

The on­go­ing fall­out poses po­ten­tially se­vere le­gal is­sues for the companies in­volved. The We­in­stein Co., which fired its cochair­man on Sun­day, has moved for­ward with plans to change its name. In a state­ment Tues­day night, the We­in­stein Co. board of direc­tors strongly de­nied that it knew about We­in­stein’s be­hav­ior.

“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 in a state­ment. “We are com­mit­ted to as­sist­ing with our full en­er­gies in all crim­i­nal or other in­ves­ti­ga­tions of these al­leged acts, while pur­su­ing jus­tice for the vic­tims and a full and in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion of our own.”

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.

Le­gal ex­perts are skep­ti­cal The We­in­stein Co. could have been un­aware given the vol­ume of al­le­ga­tions.

“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 spe­cial­iz­ing in em­ploy­ment and la­bor 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.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for both companies didn’t re­spond.

Mean­while, NBC News de­fended it­self Wednesday after ques­tions were raised about whether it had fum­bled an ex­plo­sive story about We­in­stein’s al­leged sex­ual as­saults that net­work con­trib­u­tor Ro­nan Far­row broke in­stead in The New Yorker.

KIKA PRESS/ZUMA PRESS

Pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein has been ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, lead­ing to his be­ing ousted from his com­pany.

CHRIS J RAT­CLIFFE/GETTY-AFP

Ac­tress Cara Delev­ingne said Har­vey We­in­stein also propo­si­tioned her.

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