Hollywood power player Harvey Weinstein has taken a leave of absence from his film studio after The New York Times published a report detailing sexual harassment claims against him.
The Times cited “dozens” of current and former employees who reported inappropriate sexual behaviour on Weinstein’s part.
Actress Ashley Judd, 49, also went on the record to accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment, recalling an encounter she had in a hotel room with him 20 years ago.
The paper also reported eight women have reached confidential settlements with the 65-year-old over his alleged misconduct, including actress Rose McGowan.
Weinstein addressed the decades of allegations in a statement that has since been widely criticised, in which he appeared to admit to past indiscretions and blamed his behaviour on his age.
“I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different. That was the culture then,” he said.
“I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office – or out of it. To anyone.”
Weinstein’s attorney Charles Harder threatened to sue the paper for its bombshell report, saying the account was “saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein”.
“It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by nine different eyewitnesses,” Harder said.
“We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organisations.”
Weinstein told the New York Times, “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologise for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
Weinstein also quoted Jay Z, using a line he claimed was from the rapper’s new album 4:44.
“Jay Z wrote in 4:44 ‘I’m not the man I thought I was and I better be that man for my children.'” Weinstein’s statement said.
“The same is true for me. I want a second chance in the community but I know I’ve got work to do to earn it.”
According to a report from Spin, this lyric does not actually exist on the entire album.
Weinstein, who has an estimated net worth of $US150 million ($A192 million) said he was seeking help from a “team of therapists” to try and “conquer his demons”.
He also claimed to have enlisted civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom, who has in the past targeted men like Bill O’Reilly and Bill Cosby, to “tutor” him.
In response, Bloom said she had been “blunt” with the film producer and called him “an old dinosaur learning new ways”.
In a particularly well-dissected line, Weinstein promised to channel his anger into giving the National Rifle Association (NRA) of America his “full attention”, a declaration many have deemed a “Red herring” to distract from the main issue.
— Sam Dolnick (@samdolnick) October 5, 2017
I think my favorite part of the Harvey Weinstein statement is where he promises to make sure the Nat'l Rifle Association pays for his crimes
— Jeff B/DDHQ (@EsotericCD) October 5, 2017
Harvey Weinstein's apology statement almost literally ends with "at least I am not a gun"
— Chase Mitchell (@ChaseMit) October 5, 2017
The Times story cites a memo drafted by Lauren O’Connor, a former Weinstein Co employee, which raised alarms about allegations over a two-year period.
Another incident involved a temporary employee named Emily Nestor, who was invited to Weinstein’s hotel room in 2014 and told he could help her career in exchange for sexual advances.
Weinstein is married to fashion designer Georgina Chapman, 41, with whom he has two children, and has three other kids from a previous marriage.
– with AAP