NEW YORK: Harvey Weinstein’s film studio knowingly tolerated his alleged sexual assaults for years, New York’s attorney general said Monday, one day after filing a lawsuit against the disgraced Hollywood producer that jeopardised the sale of his company.
“It is clear to us that the company’s management was complicit in this behaviour,” Attorney General Eric Schneidermann told reporters at a press conference in New York’s Manhattan borough.
The leadership of The Weinstein Company were legally required to handle the dozens of complaints and put a stop to the alleged behaviour, Schneidermann said.
“They knew what was happening, they know how pervasive it was,” he said. “And yet they did nothing.”
Schneidermann filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the state of New York on Sunday against former Hollywood producer Weinstein, his company and brother after a four-month investigation uncovered “new and egregious” sexual misconduct.
The suit prevented the sale of Weinstein’s firm to a group of investors fronted by businesswoman Maria Contreras-Sweet at the last minute.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Yucaipa Capital and investment firm Lantern Capital were backing up Contreras-Sweet and ready to pay 500 million dollars.
A deal which would remove Weinstein and his brother Bob from the company but leave the management structure otherwise intact is “unacceptable,” Schneidermann said.
Harvey Weinstein was ousted from his company in October.
Any deal to buy the company’s assets must also ensure victims receive adequate compensation, and the deal that was due to go through did not meet that standard, Schneidermann said.
The investors offered insurance policies and a fund of 10 million dollars which would also contribute to legal and other costs, but New York State was seeking a sum dedicated to the victims exclusively, Schneidermann said.
Investigators obtained a digital copy of Weinstein’s personnel file. “We were told that the physical personnel file has gone missing,” Schneidermann said.
The file they did receive contained dozens of formal complaints and many more informal complaints.
Weinstein’s lawyer Ben Brafman said that “while Mr Weinstein’s behaviour was not without fault, there certainly was no criminality,” in a statement emailed to dpa.
According to legal documents filed on Sunday, knowledge of his behaviour was so widespread that employees at The Weinstein Company were tasked with preparing a room for Weinstein’s sexual encounters, cleaning it up afterwards and returning items of clothing to women who had left them behind.
Dozens of women have come forward with allegations against him, including actresses Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Rose McGowan.