Three women have accused the film mogul Harvey Weinstein of rape, escalating the flurry of claims levelled at the producer and raising fresh questions about who within Hollywood was aware of what was allegedly taking place over more than 20 years.
The women, two who agreed to be identified and one who spoke anonymously, told an American magazine that the producer of movies such as The English Patient and Pulp Fiction forcibly performed or received one sex act, and forced another on them.
The allegations, which Mr Weinstein has denied, follow claims made last week that the co-founder of Miramar Films had settled claims from eight women who accused him of sexual harassment. Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and other actresses have subsequently come forward with their own claims of such harassment at the hands of the 65-year-old.
On Tuesday, in perhaps the most serious claims yet, the New Yorker said that as part of a ten-month investigation, it had spoken to three women who claimed they were raped by him. The Independent is not naming the women.
“For more than twenty years, Weinstein has also been trailed by rumours of sexual harassment and assault. This has been an open secret to many in Hollywood and beyond, but previous attempts by many publications, including The New Yorker, to investigate and publish the story over the years fell short of the demands of journalistic evidence,” said the magazine.
“Too few people were willing to speak, much less allow a reporter to use their names, and Weinstein and his associates used nondisclosure agreements, monetary payoffs, and legal threats to suppress these myriad stories.”
The magazine said in the course of its inquiries it had spoken to 13 women who said that between the 1990s and 2015, Mr Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them.
It also said 16 former and current executives and assistants at Mr Weinstein’s companies said they had witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching at events associated with his films, or in the workplace.
HANDS OF STONE - Official US Trailer - The Weinstein Company
“They and others describe a pattern of professional meetings that were little more than thin pretexts for sexual advances on young actresses and models,” the article says.
Mr Weinstein last week denied claims that he had been forced to settle the series of claims from eight women, as reported in the New York Times.
Mr Weinstein initially told the Times: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologise for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.
He said he “came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different. That was the culture then”. He said he was working with therapists and planning to take a leave of absence to “deal with this issue head on”.
A lawyer subsequently said Mr Weinstein “denies many of the accusations as patently false”. She also said he was “an old dinosaur learning new ways”.
Mr Weinstein also claimed his British-born wife, Georgina Chapman, a designer for the Marchesa fashion brand, was supporting him “100 per cent”.
The New Yorker story appeared two days after Mr Weinstein was fired from by the board of his own company.
A spokesman for the mogul, Sallie Hofmeister, said in a statement “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein”.
Statement from Secretary Clinton on Harvey Weinstein: pic.twitter.com/L1l2wl9l0I— Nick Merrill (@NickMerrill) October 10, 2017
“Mr Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”
She added: “He will not be available for further comments, as he is taking the time to focus on his family, on getting counselling and rebuilding his life.”
CNN separately spoke with one of the woman interviewed in the New Yorker article. She said she was haunted by the experience of what happened to her.
“Just his body, his presence, his face, bring me back to the little girl that I was when I was twenty-one,” she told the magazine. “When I see him, it makes me feel little and stupid and weak. After the rape, he won.”
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has said she was “shocked and appalled” by the allegations about Mr Weinstein, who has for many years been a major Democratic Party donor.
“The behaviour described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated,” said Ms Clinton. “Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behaviour.”