Rowena Chiu was just 24-years-old when she says Harvey Weinstein attempted to rape her. At the time, she was working as his assistant in London. Chiu alleges that she and Weinstein were in a hotel suite during the Venice film festival in 1998 when the incident occurred.
In an opinion piece she wrote for the New York Times, Chiu writes, “What happened on that night would shape the rest of my life. Unbeknown to me, I was about to keep a secret — a devastating, suffocating secret, one that would drive me to attempt suicide twice, one that I wouldn’t breathe a word of to my husband of a decade, one that would silence me for the next 21 years.”
Read on to learn more.
1. She Signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement in 1998
According to The Guardian, after Weinstein allegedly tried to rape Chiu in 1998, she confided in fellow assistant Zelda Perkins. When Perkins confronted Weinstein about his actions, both she and Chiu ended up resigning.
Chiu says she and Perkins underwent “weeks of bullying,” and they both signed a non-disclosure agreement and were paid about $213,000 to stay silent. The Guardian writes, “The terms of the agreement stated that they could not even disclose what had happened to mental health professionals without first signing NDAs with Weinstein’s lawyers.”
In her piece for the New York Times, Chiu writes that after the incident, she and Perkins attempted to report Weinstein, but “multiple senior individuals acted to shut us down.”
She continues, “A senior colleague advised us to hire lawyers, but we had no experience in how to do that, nor did we have Harvey’s deep pockets. We eventually found a small firm that agreed to represent us, but the imbalance of power between our lawyers and his lawyers led to us accepting an outcome we had not sought.”
Chiu has since voiced her regret in signing the NDA. “The victim may feel she wants it. The victim’s lawyer may feel it’s the best thing for the victim, but I think that in the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault – especially one at work, where there may be a power differential between you and your boss and you don’t want to lose your job – what you feel then may not be what you want in five or 10 or 20 years’ time. And you can’t undo an NDA.”
2. Chiu Attempted Suicide Twice After the Incident
Chiu writes that she attempted suicide twice before finally quitting Miramax.
“I lived in constant fear of Harvey’s abuse, control and power; that the story would come back to haunt me; that I would inadvertently slip up on my promise to never speak of this. I suffered, completely isolated from those around me who could have provided the support I needed: a loved one, a trusted pastor, a respected therapist — even the man I would marry.”
In 2019, Chiu publicly came out and told her story in the book She Said, which was written by two New York Times journalists.
Still, Chiu holds, there is a lot of work to be done. Fox quotes her as saying, “Is it justice within a system when women are assaulted and often not believed?” she said. “We have a lot of work to do. … The legal system needs reform. We have a long way to go before true justice can be achieved.”
3. She Graduated From Oxford With a Degree in English Literature
Chiu was born just outside of London to parents who had emigrated from Asia and writes that she grew up in a “sheltered” environment.
Chiu graduated from Oxford in 1998 with a degree in English literature. According to ABC, she was the president of the Oxford University Dramatic Society during her time at University. Chiu hoped to work in the film industry one day, and in 1998, she was hired to assist Weinstein in London on his European productions.
Speaking to ABC, Chiu said of landing the gig with Weinstein, “It’s difficult to describe that sense of elation when you get your first real job in film. And Harvey Weinstein was a Hollywood producer who really made people’s dreams come true, not just actresses and film directors and writers, but also the people in his office. It’s like working for God.”
Today, she is married with four children.
4. She Said She Feels ‘Some Measure of Justice’ After Weinstein’s Conviction
After Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison, Chiu said, “I feel some measure of justice.” She continued:
Guilty on all counts would’ve been the preference, of course, but I don’t wish to undermine the significance of this verdict for many, many women around the world, not just the hundred-plus survivors who themselves sacrificed a lot personally to speak out about Harvey, but also the whole army of journalists, publicists, PR people, politicians, lawmakers that got behind the #MeToo movement.
For those of us who weren’t able to press criminal charges or to bring our own civil case, this criminal trial in Manhattan has represented a proxy for our own actions that we weren’t able to bring. To some extent, we lived vicariously through the six brave women who took the stand.
5. She Will Be Featured in ID’s Harvey Weinstein Special
On April 12, ID will air “unkown details” about the crimes of convicted sex offender Weinstein. The special will last one-hour and will premiere at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Featured in the documentary are Chiu, actress Rosanna Arquette, Tarale Wulff, and Katherine Kendall. The program will also include a one-on-one with Ambra Gutierrez, the Italian model who spoke to Weinstein while wearing a wire for a conversation that helped convict Weinstein.
In a statement, Henry Schleiff, group president of Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel, and Destination America, states, “Weinstein was a monster, masked as a mogul, and as we developed this series which will investigate society’s most heinous criminals, he was at the top of our list. Using a unique breaking news style, our team will share unseen documents, forensic evidence and heartbreaking personal accounts that further expose Weinstein’s reign of terror in Hollywood.”