Producer Harvey Weinstein is the latest big Hollywood name to face an explosion of sexual harassment allegations. A new report by The New York Times says Weinstein is “being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact” over a period of nearly 30 years. According to the Times, Weinstein settled at least eight cases with his accusers:

An investigation by The New York Times found previously undisclosed allegations against Mr. Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades, documented through interviews with current and former employees and film industry workers, as well as legal records, emails and internal documents from the businesses he has run, Miramax and the Weinstein Company.

During that time, after being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact, Mr. Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, according to two company officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. …

Dozens of Mr. Weinstein’s former and current employees, from assistants to top executives, said they knew of inappropriate conduct while they worked for him. Only a handful said they ever confronted him.

Mr. Weinstein enforced a code of silence; employees of the Weinstein Company have contracts saying they will not criticize it or its leaders in a way that could harm its “business reputation” or “any employee’s personal reputation,” a recent document shows. And most of the women accepting payouts agreed to confidentiality clauses prohibiting them from speaking about the deals or the events that led to them.

Weinstein apparently expected the Times’ story. Variety reported Wednesday that the producer hired a “high-powered team of attorneys to push back on soon-to-be-published bombshell stories from the New York Times and the New Yorker detailing sexual allegations and improper workplace behavior against him.”

One of the lawyers is Lisa Bloom, a Los Angeles attorney known for taking the accusers’ side in sexual harassment cases—most recently, she represented a client against Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. Bloom told the Times that Weinstein “denies many of the accusations as patently false.”

Another of Weinstein’s lawyers, Charles Harder, told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday that Weinstein planned to sue the Times for its “false and defamatory statements.”

“[The report] relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by 9 different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish,” Harder said. “We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.”

However, Weinstein seemed to acknowledge the accusations, telling the Times: “The  way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.” He added he will be taking a leave of absence. Read his full statement to the Times below:

Screen shot via The New York Times

The Times conducted interviews with numerous women who alleged Weinstein sexually harassed them. Many said Weinstein targeted vulnerable women who hoped to succeed in the film industry.

“In interviews, eight women described varying behavior by Mr. Weinstein: appearing nearly or fully naked in front of them, requiring them to be present while he bathed or repeatedly asking for a massage or initiating one himself,” the Times reports. “The women, typically in their early or mid-20s and hoping to get a toehold in the film industry, said he could switch course quickly — meetings and clipboards one moment, intimate comments the next. One woman advised a peer to wear a parka when summoned for duty as a layer of protection against unwelcome advances.”

This latest wave of accusations comes at a time when many high-powered media elites, such as O’Reilly and the late Roger Ailes, have faced allegations of sexual harassment. Many of the alleged incidents are decades old but have come to light this year.

“For every Harvey Weinstein who eventually gets exposed, there are droves more who continue to leverage their power to harass & abuse women,” journalist Sarah Lerner noted on Twitter.

Read the full New York Times report here. The New Yorker has yet to publish a  story on the subject, although as noted above, Variety anticipates a report from that outlet as well.

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig