The recent sex scandal swirling around movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and his alleged exploitation of women is moving beyond the world of allegations. Law enforcement officials have started to get seriously involved in the matter.
New York State’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Monday a civil rights investigation into The Weinstein Company, seeking company records on harassment complaints in light of the allegations against its co-founder, Harvey Weinstein, according to AP News.
The State’s Attorney is hoping to determine whether any civil rights or anti-discrimination laws were broken, and suspects that details within the company’s records related to their complaints and legal settlements might contain clues for his investigation.
“No New Yorker should be forced to walk into a workplace ruled by sexual intimidation, harassment or fear,” said Schneiderman, a Democrat. “If sexual harassment or discrimination is pervasive at a company, we want to know.”
More than three dozen women have made allegations that the movie producer, in some form, abused them, including well-known actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. One of Weinstein’s former assistants in London, Zelda Perkins, recently spoke to the Financial Times, describing instances of her own sexual abuse at the hands of the entertainment mogul. She later said that she split a £250,000 settlement with another woman who also claimed to be abused.
Perkins added that she was forced into signing a non-disclosure agreement and couldn’t keep a copy of the document for herself. “I want to publicly break my non-disclosure agreement,” she said. “Unless somebody does this there won’t be a debate about how egregious these agreements are and the amount of duress that victims are put under. My entire world fell in because I thought the law was there to protect those who abided by it.”
The New York Post reported that although many of these alleged attacks took place in 2004 when New York had a five-year statute of limitations regarding sex crimes, authorities have confirmed that a 2006 law overturned this restriction and that charges will be brought up when, and if, appropriate.
In tandem with the growing involvement of law enforcement, many actors are revealing that they were well aware of Weinstein’s indulgences. Both Matt Damon and George Clooney acknowledged in an interview with Good Morning America that they were aware he slept with a myriad of actresses.
“I knew he was an [expletive],” Damon said. “He was proud of that. … I knew he was a womanizer. I wouldn’t want to be married to the guy, but it’s not my business really. But this level of criminal sexual predation is not something that I ever thought was going on.”
Another actor, Tom Hanks, expressed similar thoughts in an interview with The New York Times, where he admitted that he was aware of his actions. “But, aah, it all just sort of fits, doesn’t it?” he remarked, according to The Daily Caller.
An investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s company has begun. Do you think they will find anything?
Weinstein still denies that these actions took place. One publicist for the producer repeatedly said, “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”
Police in New York City, London, and Los Angeles are also investigating Weinstein for allegations of sex abuse in those respective cities. As the victims of the Hollywood mogul continue to come out and tell their stories, it’s up to law enforcement to determine if there is enough evidence for Weinstein to be charged and prosecuted.