EXCLUSIVE: New Accuser from Weinstein’s First Movie Speaks Out

March 1, 2018
by Patrice Taddonio Assistant Director of Audience Development

In the new FRONTLINE documentary Weinstein, which premieres Friday night on PBS, a woman who worked on Harvey Weinstein’s very first movie breaks her silence and joins the more than 100 others who have accused the disgraced Hollywood mogul of sexual misconduct.

The FRONTLINE investigation — American television’s first post-scandal documentary about Weinstein — traces his alleged predatory behavior all the way back to the start of his career.

Suza Maher-Wilson, speaking publicly for the first time, worked for Weinstein on “The Burning.” It was his first film, after having built up a successful concert promotion business. The crew on the gory slasher movie shot in 1980 in Buffalo, New York included Paula Wachowiak, who also appears in the documentary recounting her own experience with Weinstein.

In the above clip, the two women speak out about the encounters.

Maher-Wilson says Weinstein approached her at a party after filming had finished and “lured” her into a hotel room to give him a massage.

I agreed, being a 23-year-old naïve, trusting young woman,” Maher-Wilson recounts in the FRONTLINE documentary, a co-production with the BBC.

Inside the hotel room, she says, Weinstein excused himself to go to the bathroom. “He came out and he was naked with a towel and it was a little shocking,” says Maher-Wilson. “And I just said, ‘I’m sorry, this isn’t what I signed on for.’ And, I left the room immediately.”

Maher-Wilson says she “told probably a handful of people” at the time, and “no one seemed shocked ’cause he was the producer … We all felt it was typical of someone in a position of power to wield that over younger, younger girls.”

Through a spokeswoman, Weinstein told FRONTLINE he denies Wachowiak’s account and disagrees on the details of Maher-Wilson’s. In a past statement to The New York Times, he said, “I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.” He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sexual contact and criminal conduct.

The experiences Maher-Wilson and Wachowiak describe in the above excerpt are part of a pattern of allegations that FRONTLINE and the BBC investigate in Weinstein. Drawing on numerous firsthand accounts, including interviews with former executives at Miramax and The Weinstein Company who are speaking out on TV for the first time, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (who is suing The Weinstein Company), and journalists who confronted Weinstein, the film investigates nearly four decades of allegations against the movie mogul, efforts to silence his accusers, what Hollywood knew and when.

“Any time you have a story like this where people are getting hurt over decades and decades, there are people around who knew enough and could have done more to stop it,” Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker says in the documentary.

Watch Weinstein Friday, March 2 starting at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CST on PBS (check local listings), on the FRONTLINE website, or on our Facebook page.

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