New York state is suing disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and his companies, making explosive charges in service of warning the public about proposed mergers and business deals.
The civil-rights suit filed Sunday in Manhattan by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accuses Mr. Weinstein, his brother Robert and the Weinstein Co. of “failing to protect its employees from pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation, and discrimination.”
It also says Mr. Weinstein personally “wielded his power in a sexually discriminatory manner” and would “sexually harass employees and abuse women.”
Though sex discrimination is the legal issue, there are more salacious charges in the 39-page complaint, according to ABC News.
New York is accusing Mr. Weinstein of threatening to kill employees, bragging about having ties to the Secret Service.
“I will kill you,” he told them, according to the lawsuit. “I will kill your family.”
Mr. Schneiderman’s lawsuit also describes a “roster” of women being kept to fulfill the mogul’s sexual desires.
The Weinstein Co. “employed one group of female employees whose primary job it was to accompany [Harvey Weinstein] to events and to facilitate [his] sexual conquests,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit doesn’t bring any criminal charges for rape or death threats, instead citing the state’s regulatory authority over mergers.
The company is reportedly fielding bids to sell its back-catalog of decades worth of hit movies; it can no longer release movies under its name because of the wave of sex-abuse claims made against Mr. Weinstein, charges that spread to other industries and touched off the #MeToo movement.
This is why New York needs to sue the Weinsteins and their company now and alert the public to the “ongoing investigation” Mr. Schneiderman argues.
“Any sale of The Weinstein Company must ensure that victims will be compensated, employees will be protected going forward, and that neither perpetrators nor enablers will be unjustly enriched. Every New Yorker has a right to a workplace free of sexual harassment, intimidation, and fear,” Mr. Schneiderman’s lawsuit says.
Ben Brafman, an attorney for Harvey Weinstein, said it seemed possible that the purpose of the lawsuit is “to scapegoat Mr. Weinstein” and in that event, “he will vigorously defend himself.”
“We believe that a fair investigation by Mr. Schneiderman will demonstrate that many of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein are without merit,” Brafman said in a statement. “While Mr. Weinstein’s behavior was not without fault, there certainly was no criminality, and at the end of the inquiry it will be clear that Harvey Weinstein promoted more women to key executive positions than any other industry leader and there was zero discrimination at either Miramax or TWC.”
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