It’s the ongoing story that’s dominated headlines, inspired survivors and victims of sexual assault and harassment to speak out and ultimately forced us to turn a more critical eye on Hollywood. As details about the lengths Harvey Weinstein has gone to conceal his encounters with women emerge, six women have filed a class action lawsuit in New York against the movie mogul and his companies, Miramax and The Weinstein Company. The plaintiffs named in the suit are Louisette Geiss, Katherine Kendall, Zoe Brock, Sarah Ann Masse, Melissa Sagemiller and Nannette Klatt. “We are but six women representing hundreds,” they say in a statement.
The women allege that Weinstein and his colleagues are guilty of civil racketeering, which helped them “perpetuate and conceal Weinstein’s widespread sexual harassment and assault.” According to Variety, the 14 counts in the suit include witness tampering, mail and wire fraud, assault, civil battery, negligent supervision and retention and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“Harvey Weinstein is a predator,” they say in their statement. “Bob [Weinstein, Harvey’s brother and business partner] knew it. The board knew it. The lawyers knew it. The private investigators knew it. Hollywood knew it. We knew it. Now the world knows it.” In their statement, the women express that their intentions aren’t just to put a stop to this kind of abuse in the film industry–but to end it altogether. “If this is happening in Hollywood, it is happening at the hospital, the supermarket, the accountant’s office, the mechanic’s garage, the school… everywhere.” They continue: “The decision to publicly reveal our painful stories was not an easy one… We are still here, still signing up for this, because it matters.”
As the six plaintiffs bring attention to the system around Weinstein, a new report from The New York Times investigates the ways in which the movie producer used his position within his company, corporate resources and Hollywood connections to carry out his behaviour without consequences. The story also includes details about how Weinstein worked with his staff, journalists and private investigators to keep stories about his private meetings with women from being reported for decades.
The New York Times first exposed allegations against Weinstein in October. Since then more than 80 women—including Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and Lupita Nyong’o—have accused him of sexual misconduct. The recent lawsuit filed by six women is only the latest in a string of suits filed against Weinstein and his companies. Vanity Fair reports that Weinstein’s former assistant Sandeep Rehal is expected to file a sexual harassment suit against him in New York in the coming weeks. Rehal is one of several sources who spoke on record to The New York Times about her experiences working for him. “You become more and more aware of everything going on, then you realize what it is you’re cleaning up,” she says. “You don’t ever want to tell anyone that—friends, family, my parents—what kind of job this is.”
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