Hollywood big shot Weinstein faces sex harassment allegation

LOS ANGELES — Harvey Weinstein, the larger-than-life Hollywood executive and Oscar-winner, is taking a leave of absence from his own company after an explosive expose revealing decades of sexual harassment against women, from employees to actress Ashley Judd, was published in The New York Times Thursday.

The article includes first person accounts of Weinstein’s alleged conduct, including from Judd, who recounts an incident from two decades ago in which she said she was asked to meet Weinstein in his hotel room. Weinstein greeted her wearing a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or if she would watch him shower, the paper reported.

“Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly,” Judd told the Times. Her publicist Annett Wolf said in response to a request for comment, “The New York Times article speaks for itself.”

Two unnamed company officials tell the Times that at least eight women have received settlements from Weinstein over the years, including actress Rose McGowan, who allegedly had an incident with him in 1997 when she was 23.

Other stories include similar accounts of Weinstein coercing young women into giving him massages, while naked, or watching him shower, and promising career advancement in return. These incidents were all said to have happened in hotel rooms.

Weinstein’s attorney Charles J. Harder said in a statement that the story is “saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein.”

“We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish,” Harder said. He did not respond to questions about what specific allegations Weinstein was contesting.

Harder represented Hulk Hogan in his successful defamation suit against the now-defunct website Gawker.

“We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting,” said a New York Times spokesperson in a statement. “Mr. Weinstein was aware and able to respond to specific allegations in our story before publication. In fact, we published his response in full.”

Weinstein also gave an interview to The New York Post Thursday afternoon echoing Harder’s statements and calling the Times’ reporting “reckless.” He accused the paper of having a “vendetta” against him.

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