A secret police recording of US film producer Harvey Weinstein in a New York hotel has been leaked by The New Yorker as Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow join the growing list of women making sexual harassment claims.
Three more women – including Italian actress Asia Argento and a woman who was an aspiring actress in college – have come forward with rape accusations against Mr Weinstein, TNY reported.
Their accounts not only add to a mounting number of alleged incidents, but thoroughly document the systematic harassment, abuse and intimidation of women, almost always young actresses trying to succeed in their careers.
In an audio recording captured during a police sting operation in 2015, obtained by TNY, Mr Weinstein appears to confess to groping Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez.
In his own words: Listen to the disturbing audio
In the audio, Ms Gutierrez repeatedly rebuffs Mr Weinstein’s requests for her to join him in his hotel room.
She can be heard asking Mr Weinstein: “Why yesterday [did] you touch my breast?” to which he responds: “I’m used to that.”
During the course of the exchange, Ms Gutierrez declines Mr Weinstein’s repeated requests about a dozen times saying “no”, as well as phrases including “I want to leave” and “I don’t want to”.
At the time, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R Vance, Jr, announced that an investigation did not support criminal charges.
“If we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have,” Karen Friedman-Agnifilo, chief assistant district attorney, told TNY.
“While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent.”
“Subsequent investigative steps undertaken in order to establish intent were not successful.
“This, coupled with other proof issues, meant that there was no choice but to conclude the investigation without criminal charges.”
The explosive tape has emerged as Mr Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, 41, announced she would leave her husband.
“My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions,” Ms Chapman told People.
“I have chosen to leave my husband.
“Caring for my young children is my first priority and I ask the media for privacy at this time.”
Mr Weinstein, 65, reportedly plans to enter a treatment facility but sources have told US media outlets he had not yet left the Los Angeles hotel where he and Ms Chapman had been staying.
In a follow-up to its earlier exposé, The New York Times reported that many other actresses have in recent days added to the chorus of accusations surrounding Mr Weinstein.
Ms Paltrow described Mr Weinstein’s attempt to lure her, then 22, into giving him a massage in a hotel room.
The incident prompted her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt to angrily confront Mr Weinstein at a film premiere.
Jolie also told the Times that she had “a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth”.
Since, she said, she has refused to work with him and “warn others when they did”.
Rosanna Arquette and Mira Sorvino also alleged Mr Weinstein sexually harassed them.
Arquette described a 1990s incident at a Beverly Hills hotel in which Mr Weinstein tried to make her give him a massage and then attempted to lead her hand to his penis.
Afterward, the actress told the magazine: “He made things very difficult for me for years.”
Weinstein allegedly raped three women, TNY reports
The New Yorker report, written and researched by NBC correspondent Ronan Farrow, claimed 13 women have said Mr Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them between 1990 and 2015, ranging unwanted groping to forced sex.
They not only comprise a mounting number of alleged incidents, but thoroughly document the systematic harassment, abuse and intimidation of women – almost always young actresses trying to land roles.
Lucia Evans, then a senior at Middlebury College, said Mr Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004 at the Miramax offices in Tribeca – she had been brought in for a casting meeting with Mr Weinstein.
Argento, an actress and director, said Mr Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999.
A third woman spoke anonymously.
“I know he has crushed a lot of people before,” Argento told TNY.
“That’s why this story – in my case, it’s 20 years old, some of them are older – has never come out.”
TNY quoted Mr Weinstein representative Sallie Hofmeister responding that “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein”.
Both reports significantly ratcheted up the unfolding scandal surrounding Mr Weinstein, who was fired from the Weinstein Company.
Some of those incidents overlap with the eight allegations of sexual harassment previously reported by The New York Times, all of which resulted in financial settlements.
Representatives for the actresses involved in both reports did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
TNY also reported that 16 former and current executives and assistants at The Weinstein Co and Miramax either witnessed or knew of Mr Weinstein’s unwanted sexual advances.
“All 16 said the behaviour was widely known within both Miramax and the Weinstein Company.”
Mr Weinstein has been a major Democratic Party donor as he and his family has given more than $US1.4 million ($1.8 million) in political contributions since the 1992 election cycle.
Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she was “shocked and appalled” by the allegations.
-with ABC, agencies