- Six women filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday alleging that Harvey Weinstein and his associates’ efforts to cover up sexual misconduct allegations amounted to racketeering.
- The women are seeking class-action status to represent “dozens, if not hundreds” of other victims.
- The suit alleges that Weinstein and those “complicit” in his behaviour conspired to cover up sexual assault and harassment.
Six women filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein Company, Miramax, and others, alleging that their coordinated efforts to cover up his sexual abuse amounted to racketeering.
The suit, filed in a federal court in New York, alleges that Weinstein and multiple “complicit” individuals and companies conspired to lure women under the guise of career advancement so that Weinstein could sexually harass or assault them, then silence any accusations of wrongdoing.
The women are seeking class-action status to represent the “dozens, if not hundreds” of women who say Weinstein harassed or assaulted them. The suit alleges that the defendants’ actions constitute a violation of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organisations act.
“This coalition of firms and individuals became part of the growing ‘Weinstein Sexual Enterprise,’ a RICO enterprise,” the suit alleged. “The Weinstein Sexual Enterprise had many participants grew over time as the obfuscation of Weinstein’s conduct became more difficult to conceal.”
The suit alleges that Weinstein and his co-conspirators lured victims to hotel rooms, office casting couches, or Weinstein’s homes under the pretense of professional development opportunities. It goes on to allege that Weinstein would then pursue unwanted sexual conduct, including flashing, groping, fondling, harassing, battering, false imprisonment, sexual assault, attempted rape, and rape.
The women said in the suit that Weinstein and his allies engaged in a pattern of “isolating and blacklisting” victims to cover up Weinstein’s “predatory tactics.” They added that the defendants’ behaviour harmed the victims’ business and career prospects and reputations, and caused severe emotional and physical distress.
Weinstein’s victims “were aware of Weinstein’s ability to make or break their careers, as well as to continue to inflict emotional distress,” the suit said. “Moreover, Weinstein wielded and was outspoken about his power and ability to either launch their careers or ruin their personal and professional reputations forever.”
‘The Weinstein Sexual Enterprise’
The suit also names as defendants each member of The Weinstein Company’s board of directors, including Weinstein’s brother Robert Weinstein.
The plaintiffs include the actresses Sarah Ann Thomas, Zoe Brock, Katherine Kendall, Nannette Klatt, Melissa Sagemiller, and the scriptwriter and actress Louisette Geiss. Most of the women publicly shared their allegations against Weinstein with news outlets in recent months.
Allegations against Weinstein first came to light in several bombshell reports from The New York Times and The New Yorker, which documented multiple women’s experiences with Weinstein going back decades. Dozens of women have now stepped forward in news outlets or on social media to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct to varying degrees.
Most of the alleged encounters detail “business meetings” that occurred in Weinstein’s hotel suites that turned into scenes of sexual harassment or assault. These accusations stretch back as far as the 1980s and include a variety of film industry figures, including actresses, assistants, and other employees.
After the stories broke, Weinstein was fired from the Weinstein Company, which he co-founded. Police departments in New York City, London, Los Angeles, and Beverly Hills have launched investigations into allegations against him.
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