Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Company are the subjects of a new class action lawsuit in federal court that charges them with an extortion pattern to cover up alleged Weinstein serial sexual assaults.
The plaintiffs, six women, seek certification as a class to sue for extortion, civil assault, assault and the intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The six women say that Weinstein sexually assaulted them when they auditioned for him or knew him at company-sponsored events.
The lawsuit accuses Weinstein and associates of participating in a pattern of victim harassment. Weinstein staff, board members, contract workers, attorneys, National Enquirer writers and others allegedly formed what the lawsuit calls the "Weinstein Sexual Company" that violated the Corrupt and Corrupt Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
"Each participant in the Weinstein Sexual Enterprise had a systematic link with the other participants through corporate links, contractual relationships, financial links and the continuous coordination of their activities," the lawsuit adds.
Weinstein allegedly employed an "army of spies" to track down and intimidate journalists and their alleged victims, New Yorker reported last month, that plaintiffs attorney Steve Berman said it is the basis of the RICO accusations.
"We believe that these entities, the army of spies, as an article called it, facilitated and used cables and couriers to orchestrate," Berman told The Daily Beast. "This A: allowed [Weinstein] to continue doing this over the years, and B: covered it up when you use cables and emails – which are regulated by the Organized Crime Act – with the illegal purpose of sexually raping and harassing , that falls directly into RICO. "
The defendants include Robert, Weinstein's brother, and the company they founded, Miramax. , before forming his own homonymous film studio. The former members of the Weinstein Company board also appear as defendants: Dirk Ziff, Tim Sarnoff, Marc Lasry, Tarak Ben Ammar, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg and Paul Tudor Jones.
James Dolan, former director of the Weinstein Company and current owner of the New York Knicks and Rangers, is also accused of knowing "Weinstein's pattern and practice of predatory sexual behavior toward women because of his personal relationship with Weinstein and his position as director "of the company.
an alleged Weinstein victim in California approached one of the signatures of the case, Berman said.
"We have been contacted by more and more people," he added.
The six women accuse Weinstein or his employees of luring them into the rooms with the producer alone, on the pretext of auditioning or discussing the roles of the film. Once Weinstein was alone with the women, he trapped them in the rooms, assaulted them or pressured them to do sexual favors, women claim.
"They are all women who wanted to work in the film industry," Berman said. . "They were all drawn to their hotel rooms, and assaulted them"
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One of the accusers, Katherine Kendall, was 23 years old in 1993 when she says she met Weinstein at an industry party. Weinstein pressured Kendall's mother to put Kendall in touch with him, the lawsuit alleges. Kendall's agent finally agreed to schedule a meeting with Weinstein, who supposedly welcomed Kendall to "the Miramax family" and invited her to a screening of the film under the guise of presenting it to people in the industry. After the screening, Weinstein allegedly pressured Kendall to visit his apartment.
"You are in good hands," he said supposedly. Then she allegedly took off her clothes, forbade Kendall from entering the apartment and chased her, demanding sexual favors from her. When he finally allowed him to leave in a taxi, Weinstein supposedly sat looking outside his destination for 20 minutes.
This summer, 24 years after the alleged incident, Kendall received a call from a man with an English accent who claimed to be a journalist for Guardian called "Seth Freeman." The man claimed he was reporting sexual assault in Hollywood, and pressed Kendall to reveal whether he was going to talk to New York Times who was, at that time, also investigating Weinstein.
Nobody named Seth Freeman works at Guardian . Later, Kendall discovered that a man named Seth Freeman had contacted other Weinstein accusers.
The lawsuit is based largely on the news about how Weinstein relied on close associates, including employees and friends, to maintain control of his narrative.
"The power that Weinstein exerted – and his ability to blacklist an actress or model for complaining about his predatory behavior – was so legendary that it was the rule in the entertainment industry that women needed to consent to Weinstein to succeed ", the lawsuit reads. "This rule was so widely accepted that male producers and actors gladly expressed their expectations that the Plaintiff and the Class would follow and follow her to advance their careers."
In October, The New York Times ] and The New Yorker published the reports of more than a dozen women accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault and rape. Since then, the list of women who have accused Weinstein of such acts has grown to include more than 80 stories dating back to the 1980s.
Yesterday, Times published another piece about Weinstein that It details the "Machine Complicity," which included a blind eye of the entire industry and the company as to what Weinstein was doing. He reportedly blacklisted and blackmailed any person who posed a threat to him, and tried to obstruct any investigation as recent as Ronan Farrow's New Yorker expose, such as The New The York Times reported that Weinstein tried to contact the journalist before the article was published.
Weinstein was fired from The Weinstein Company, which he directed along with his brother Bob, shortly after the first allegations were published. Police in New York, Los Angeles and London say they have opened investigations on Weinstein.
– Karen Han contributed to this report.