Harvey Weinstein allegedly forced a 16-year-old to touch his penis during the course of what she believed to be a job meeting, then launched a vengeful harassment campaign against her after she refused. On Wednesday, the woman joined nine other women named in a class-action lawsuit against the disgraced movie mogul, who also faces a criminal suit for the long list of sexual abuse and rape allegations women have lodged against him.
The woman, identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, says she met Weinstein at an event her modeling agency held in 2002, shortly after she moved to the U.S. from Poland. Weinstein allegedly invited Doe to lunch to discuss her acting aspirations, so when he picked her up on the appointed day, she was surprised when his driver brought them not to a restaurant, but to Weinstein's SoHo apartment. She says she told him she was 16, but claims that didn't stop him from making forceful advances.
"Once alone with Jane Doe, Weinstein wasted no time in aggressively and threateningly demanding sex," the suit reads. "He told her that if she want to be an actress, she would have to be comfortable doing whatever the director told her to do—including losing her inhibitions and getting naked." Positioning himself as a Hollywood kingmaker to whom prominent actors Penelope Cruz and Gwyneth Paltrow owed their careers, and implying he had the power to blacklist her if she didn't do as he said, he commanded Doe to strip.
"Terrified and struggling to hold back tears, Jane Doe said she would not and resisted his demands," the suit continues. "Jane Doe was a virgin, and had no intention or understanding when she agreed to a business lunch that she would be put in this alarming position."
Weinstein proceeded to take off his pants, according to court filings, and "forcibly held Jane Doe while taking her hand and making her touch and massage his penis," ignoring her protests. "Weinstein's demeanor became intense, as if he was hunting prey," the suit says. The situation allegedly escalated into a shouting match, as "Weinstein made clear that, by refusing his sexual demands, Jane Doe was giving up her opportunity to make it in Hollywood" and she firmly declined any kind of sexual activity with him.
Doe did eventually get away, but for the next decade, the mogul allegedly sustained his harassment tactics, regularly texting her to emphasize "that he was the only person who could help her become an actress." When, a few years later and in an effort to get him to leave her alone, she told him she was dating a "wealthy man," Weinstein allegedly became so enraged at her unavailability that he showed up outside her residence. Fortunately, security denied him entrance, but Weinstein kept calling. In 2004, he cast her as an extra in The Nanny Diaries, making it clear that he had orchestrated special treatment for her, and that in return for the favor, she would have to be "very good to him."
In the following years, the suit alleges, more favors came her way, always with the implication that Weinstein was keeping score and expected sex in exchange. Another meeting in 2008 ended when Weinstein noticed Christina Aguilera performing on a TV in his office, and began masturbating in front of Doe: "'Wow, I'd really like to fuck that pussy,'" he allegedly said. "He then unzipped his pants and began touching his penis."
As a result of Weinstein's alleged behavior, the suit says, Doe developed depression and anxiety. Her lawyer, Elizabeth Fegan, told Gothamist that she remains "determined to hold Weinstein and those who empowered him accountable." (Along with Weinstein, various production companies, including Miramax, Disney, and the Weinstein Company, are named in the suit, which accuses the defendants of racketeering, and knowingly abetting Weinstein's pattern of predatory sexual behavior.)
"While Weinstein's lawyers weave tales that the criminal case is falling apart, they fail to mention that our civil class-action lawsuit is moving full-speed ahead," Fegan said. "Even without the benefit of any discovery, it is clear that the decision makers at Miramax and The Weinstein Company knew that Harvey Weinstein was a sexual predator. They were making too much money and having too much fun to do anything about it, and now they will answer for it."
And indeed, headlines have tended to focus on the NYC criminal sexual assault case against Harvey Weinstein, which has weathered a few rocky moments in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance dropped one of the charges against the producer after inconsistencies emerged in an allegation made by Lucia Evans, originally outlined in the New Yorker's #MeToo-catalyzing 2017 report on Weinstein. Prosecutors then learned that an NYPD detective had told an accuser she could delete personal information from her phone before turning it over to prosecutors, which some worrycould jeopardize the entire case. The civil suit, although it has earned less attention, outlines 10 very similar experiences to those described in the criminal case, all of them showcasing a pattern of sexually exploitative and abusive behavior some 87 women have allegedly endured at Weinstein's hands.