A bombshell New York Times report revealed that Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual harassment by young women over nearly three decades. The report comes two years after Italian actress Amra Battilana accused Weinstein of grabbing her breasts and putting his hands up her skirt in March 2015. On October 7, The Weinstein Company fired Weinstein from the company he co-founded with his brother Bob.
According to the New York Times, a Weinstein Company employee, Lauren O’Connor, wrote a memo raising concerns about the 65-year-old Weinstein’s behavior and cited accusations from a colleague. It was written a few months after a young female employee quit because she claimed she was forced to schedule assignations for Weinstein, two sources told the Times.
“There is a toxic environment for women at this company,” O’Connor wrote in the memo obtained by the Times. She continued, “I am just starting out in my career, and have been and remain fearful about speaking up… But remaining silent is causing me great distress.”
“I am a 28 year old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64 year old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10,” O’Connor wrote in her memo.
Weinstein reached a settlement with O’Connor, who then withdrew her complaint. “The parties made peace very quickly,” Weinstein’s attorney, Lisa Bloom, told the Times. Weinstein also issued an apology for his behavior. The Times reports that Weinstein made settlements with other women, including Battilana.
Here’s what you need to know about the 24-year-old Battilana and her claims against Weinstein.
1. Battilana Claimed Weinstein Touched Her Breasts & Put His Hands Up Her Skirt
Battilana’s story exploded in the New York City tabloids in late March 2015. As the New York Daily News reported at the time, Battilana, who was 22 at the time, told police that Weinstein sexually abused her in his Manhattan office. She told police that he groped her breasts and put his hands up her skirt.
“He asked if her breasts were real before touching them,” a police source told the Daily News. “She asked him to stop, and he put his hand up her skirt. He asked for a kiss; she responded ‘No.’”
Sources told the Daily News that Battilana, who wasn’t identified in the first Daily News report, told a friend about what allegedly happened. The friend took her to police, who later questioned Weinstein.
“He initiated the contact,” a police source told the Daily News of Weinstein. “He saw her and spoke to her. She didn’t know who he was until he approached her.”
When the New York Post first reported on the allegations on March 30, 2015, a “movie industry source” told the paper that it was a “blackmail” attempt. That report stated that she left Weinstein’s office after he asked for a kiss.
2. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Didn’t Press Charges, but Weinstein Reportedly Reached a Confidential Settlement
Only a few weeks after Battilana’s claims reached the media, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office decided against charging Weinstein with a crime. A source told the Daily News that the D.A. didn’t think they could prove that Weinstein did anything wrong beyond a reasonable doubt. They also thought she had “credibility issues.”
“We are pleased this episode is behind us,” a spokeswoman for Weinstein told the Daily News.
However, The New York Times reported on October 5 that Weinstein paid a settlement to Battilana. The settlement is sealed under a confidentiality agreement and Battilana declined the Times’ request for comment.
3. She Told Police About Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s ‘Bunga Bunga’ Parties in 2011
Battilana was also involved in two other cases involving powerful, older men. As a teenager in 2011, she told Italian police about former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous “bunga bunga” parties.
The Italian daily Corriere della Sera published excerpts of police interviews with Battilana and another beauty queen, Chiara Danese, about a sexually explicit night of partying at Berlusconi’s mansion.
The women, who were both 19 at the time, told police that Berlusconi called the women at the party “my girls” and they were told to call him “Daddy.” He was 74 years old at the time. They also told police that they wanted to leave, but were told they couldn’t participate in the Miss Italy pageant if they did, notes the New York Post.
Berlusconi was acquitted of charges related to the bunga bunga parties.
4. She Also Sued a 70-Year-Old Businessman When She Was a Minor
A source told the Daily News that Battilana’s credibility was called into question because of a case in Italy when she accused a 70-year-old businessman of having sex with her when she was a minor. The man was identified as “Mr. G” in the lawsuit.
“Mr. G” admitted that he had a relationship with Battilana, but said it was consensual. He also said he would give her jewelry and other gifts.
The case led to the end of Battilana’s relationship with Marcello Cassano, a fashion photographer who told the Daily News he was her ex-boyfriend. He told the paper that she was a “victim of her beauty.”
“She’s a good person, but she suffered so much,” Cassano told the Daily News. “I don’t know what to think… She’s a self-made woman and a good person, but at the same time, she’s really competitive and ambitious.”
5. Battilana’s Claims Match Those of Other Stories Reported by the New York Times
Battilana’s claims were not too different from the other allegations reported on by the New York Times. In many of these cases, Weinstein met with women who thought they were having a business meeting with him.
Actress Ashley Judd told the Times that she met with Weinstein when she was a young actress at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what she thought was a breakfast meeting. But when she arrived in his room, he was only wearing a bathrobe and asked her to give him a massage and watch him shower.
In another case, Emily Nestor was asked to visit Weinstein in 2014 after working for him for only one day. He asked her to come to the same hotel and promised to help her career if she accepted his sexual advances. “She said he was very persistent and focused though she kept saying no for over an hour,” reads an internal document obtained by the Times.
The Times reported that they spoke with eight different women, who were in their early to mid-20s and hoped meeting Weinstein would help their careers. The women told the Times that Weinstein would ask for a massage or to watch him bathe. The alleged incidents took place at hotels in Los Angeles, New York, London, near the Cannes Film Festival in France or near the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
The Times reported that one $100,000 settlement was made with Scream actress Rose McGowan, who accused him of an incident at Sundance.
Weinstein sent a long statement to the Times, apologizing and insisting that he has learned from his actions. But in the last paragraph, he wrote about his plans to “channel” his anger at the National Rifle Association.
“Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment,” Weinstein wrote. “My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons. Over the last year, I’ve asked Lisa Bloom to tutor me, and she’s put together a team of people. I’ve brought on therapists, and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head on. I so respect all women, and regret what happened. I hope that my actions will speak louder than words and that one day we will all be able to earn their trust and sit down together with Lisa to learn more. Jay Z wrote in 4:44 “I’m not the man I thought I was, and I better be that man for my children.” 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. I have goals that are now priorities. Trust me, this isn’t an overnight process. I’ve been trying to do this for 10 years, and this is a wake-up call. I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt, and I plan to do right by all of them.”
Weinstein is married to fashion designer Georgia Chapman and they have two children. He also has three children with his ex-wife Eve Chilton.