The first, of what is almost certainly going to be a flood of lawsuits, was filed Tuesday against the Weinstein Company by actress Dominique Huett, who claims she was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein.
The lawsuit claims that the rape occurred in November of 2010 at a hotel in Beverly Hills. Huett seeks to hold the Weinstein Company liable with the allegation that “Prior to the incident involving Plaintiff [Huett], Defendant TWC’s executives, officers and employees had actual knowledge of Weinstein’s repeated acts of sexual misconduct with women.”
The lawsuit hits the issue of corporate responsibility and liability even harder with, “In particular, Defendant [Weinstein Company] was aware of Weinstein’s pattern of using his power to coerce and force young actresses to engage in sexual acts with him.”
In the lawsuit, the details of the alleged rape conform to what one might describe as Weinstein’s apparent M.O.:
Subsequently, Weinstein requested to perform oral sex on Plaintiff. Plaintiff was shocked and alarmed by the request and initially refused. Again, Weinstein displayed persistence and would not take “no” for an answer. Weinstein initiated and Plaintiff froze as Weinstein removed her clothing and performed oral sex on her. Weinstein performed oral sex on Plaintiff for several minutes. After performing oral sex on Plaintiff, Weinstein masturbated in front of Plaintiff until he reached orgasm.
Two weeks ago, Breitbart News was the first to report about the possible legal liability for those corporations that backed Harvey Weinstein over three decades. On top of the Weinstein Company, which was formed in 2005, there is the Walt Disney Company. From 1993 to 2005, Disney owned Miramax while Weinstein, along with his brother Bob, ran it. Breitbart’s Joel Pollak explained:
As more alleged victims come forward, it is possible that some could decide to sue Disney for failing to exercise its arguable duty, during its ownership of Weinstein’s Miramax for more than a decade, to protect employees from a sexually predatory boss — if, in fact, Disney knew or had reason to know of his behavior.
By failing to intervene early, those in a position to hold Weinstein accountable arguably allowed him to continue his abusive behavior and could now conceivably face legal liability from victims — at least from those who did not sign the settlement agreements that have been revealed.
The big question is whether or not Disney knew anything about Weinstein’s alleged behavior, which includes what the New York Times reported as a 1997 settlement with actress Rose McGowan (who says Weinstein raped her). Actress Asia Argento also claims Weinstein raped her in 1997 during the Disney era.
For its part, if true, reports of additional settlements and the Weinstein Company “allowing” for sexual harassment in Harvey Weinstein’s contract — meaning he could not be terminated for it — will make it extremely difficult for the company to continue to claim that nobody knew.
As far as Disney, if indeed there were sexual harassment settlements while Weinstein was at Miramax, did Disney know about them?