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Weinstein

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EDITOR'S NOTE, May 22, 2018: An earlier version of "Weinstein" contained comments from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that are no longer in this updated film. Since the initial broadcast, Schneiderman resigned amid allegations that he physically assaulted four women.

 

KATHERINE KENDALL: I was just starting my career. It was the early ‘90s. I was just out of acting school, going on auditions and pounding the pavement. The first time I met him was in the Miramax office. It was a— you know, a legitimate meeting set up by my agents. The first moments of that meeting were very easy, breezy, casual. You know, “Welcome to the Miramax family.” And I felt very much like he was going to take care of me.

And then he said, “There’s this screening this afternoon of one of our movies.” You know, “You should come. I’ll have my car come pick you up.” Once I got there, I realized it wasn’t a special screening with cast and crew, it was just a movie. I wanted to leave, and he sort of said, “Oh, I’ll take you home.” We ended up stopping at his house. And then I— I ended up going up, probably against my better judgment. Once I was in there, we had another hour-long conversation about movies and film. And he went into the other room and he came back with a robe on, and the robe was just, like, an open robe. I didn’t even look to see. You know, I was just so stunned.

There was no suave moves or anything. Like, there was just a really weird, awkward, “Will you give me a massage?” I had to say just “No,” and— “I’m not comfortable.” He left the room and he came back, and he was just fully naked. I thought, “He’s coming after me.” I just remember sort of darting back and forth and trying to get past him. You know in that moment that you may not make it.

I told him that I was furious. I said— you know, I said, “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me.” I don’t know if he heard me, but he may have— he might have heard me. I don’t know. I mean, I do— I was able to finally get away, out. I knew that if I went up against Harvey Weinstein, I mean, just instinctually, I’d be squashed. So I was scared. And so I didn’t say anything to the people that might have been able to help me.

NARRATOR: Katherine Kendall is one of over a hundred women who have come forward with allegations against Harvey Weinstein since October 2017. Many of these women are now suing him.

Weinstein declined to be interviewed. But through a spokeswoman, provided FRONTLINE written responses to allegations in this film. He denies any criminal conduct.

RONAN FARROW, The New Yorker: Harvey Weinstein was one of the most powerful people in Hollywood for decades, and he was a darling of the American political world. 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.

CATHY SCHULMAN, President, Women in Film: I think this is a momentous reckoning. But frankly, I think there’s so much more to discover. Who knew about this? How much of a cover-up was this?

BOB McCARTHY, The Buffalo News: It began in Buffalo. It all began in Buffalo. It was a brash young fellow from Flushing, Queens, who arrived here as an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Buffalo. I believe he only put in a year before he was just kind of mesmerized by all of the opportunities that awaited him here.

NARRATOR: Weinstein built up a successful concert promotion business. Then in 1980, he made his first film.

PAULA WACHOWIAK: It was a gory film about a guy that comes back for revenge and murders the people at the camp.

NARRATOR: Twenty-four-year-old Paula Wachowiak worked on the film as an intern. One day, she says, she was asked to take some checks to a hotel room for Weinstein to sign.

PAULA WACHOWIAK: He was standing there, and he had a hand towel around his waist. I handed him the folder, and he dropped the hand towel. And all the while, he’s asking me questions about checks. And he, at some point, sat down on the bed and he plopped the folder on his lap. And then he started saying, “What about this one?” And he’s pointing. And I’m not going to look down, so I say, “Which one is that, Harvey?”

Then he said, “I have a crick in my shoulder.” He said, “Could you give me a massage? Could you rub it out for me?” And at that point, I looked at him and I said, “Harvey, I don’t think that’s in my job description.”

NARRATOR: Another young woman working on the film, Suza Maher-Wilson, says Weinstein approached her at a party after filming had finished. This is the first time she’s spoken publicly about it.

SUZA MAHER-WILSON: There was a hotel room right off the lobby. And that’s when he, like, lured me in there to— to give him a massage. And I agreed, being a 23-year-old naive, trusting young woman.

He said, “I’m going to the lavatory.” And I said, “OK.” And then I— he came out and he was naked with a towel, and it was a little shocking. And I just said, “I’m sorry, this isn’t— this isn’t what I signed on for,” and I left the room immediately.

NARRATOR: Weinstein has since said in a statement, “I came of age in the ‘60s and ‘70s. That was the culture then.” In his responses to FRONTLINE, he denies Paula Wachowiak’s account and disagrees on the details of Suza Maher-Wilson’s account.

SUZA MAHER-WILSON: I told probably a handful of people, but no one seemed shocked because he was the producer. We all felt it was typical of someone in a position of power to wield that over younger— younger girls.

PAULA WACHOWIAK: I don’t think anyone would have listened to me. I don’t think it would have mattered. I’m not famous. I didn’t think that my story meant anything to anybody.

NARRATOR: Weinstein soon left Buffalo for New York City. Miramax, the film company he founded along with his brother, Bob, was expanding. They saw themselves as artists, outsiders to the Hollywood system.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: At Miramax, we’re not under that corporate pressure, say, “Jesus, we’ve got to go up each year.” We can do what we think is good. And if our profits are lower next year than they were the year before, so what, so what as long as we did good work.

NARRATOR: The company made its name with movies that mainstream studios ignored. Weinstein’s power was growing, and he was working with top Hollywood actresses. In 1992, Sean Young, who was already known for movies like Blade Runner, starred in his latest film, Love Crimes.

LOVE CRIMES”: Who the [deleted] are you? District attorney, ass[deleted].

SEAN YOUNG: I play a character who discovers this sexual predator and then tracks them down, and then the tables are turned and is entrapped by him.

LOVE CRIMES”: The wire went out. I wanted to get him on a felony, and I needed it on tape.

SEAN YOUNG: I was sitting in Harvey’s office after the picture. And this is the only time this has ever happened to me. He pulled his thing out. And my response was, “You know, Harvey, I really wouldn’t be pulling that thing out because it’s really not pretty.” And I got up and I left.

NARRATOR: In his responses, Weinstein told FRONTLINE Sean Young’s account is untrue. He never met her in his office or anywhere else and had nothing to do with her career. It was the last time she would work on a Miramax film.

SEAN YOUNG: The reason I didn’t get another movie with Harvey Weinstein was that I made him feel foolish. I was set to have a very big career, but I upset a few important men, and the trajectory of my career went, “Wooo, pth.”

NARRATOR: In 1993, Miramax was bought by Disney, helping Weinstein become one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood. Disney says it was unaware of any sexual misconduct complaints against him. But his colleagues say he was notoriously difficult to work for.

PAUL WEBSTER, Pres. of Production, Miramax, 1995-97: Working at Miramax was like being in a cult, the cult of Harvey. It was common knowledge. Everybody knew what a brutal regime it was. He worked beyond the limits of normal human beings.

NARRATOR: Paul Webster joined Miramax in 1995. This is his first television interview about Weinstein.

PAUL WEBSTER: I knew I was making a deal with the devil. I knew he was a bully. I knew he would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. I knew he had a volcanic temper. I knew he was a dangerous character. But I knew also that he was at the epicenter of where I wanted to be.

NARRATOR: Despite his reputation as a bully, Hollywood stars continued to line up to work with him. A part in one of his films could mean artistic credibility, fame, and awards.

“SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE”: Oh, my love. I thought you were dead.

In 1998, 26-year-old Gwyneth Paltrow appeared in Shakespeare in Love. It won both her and Weinstein Oscars.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: This is a movie about life and art, and art and life combining is called magic.

NARRATOR: Weinstein was at the top of the Hollywood establishment. But a reporter with sources in the movie industry was investigating a disturbing rumor about him.

KIM MASTERS: We had heard that Gwyneth Paltrow had been assaulted. We heard it from a director who was very upset about it and wanted it to be out there. And we thought, “Well, yeah, you, know, we’ve got to try and do this.” But there was no path forward at that point at all. If you call their publicist and say, “I wanted to talk to Gwyneth Paltrow because I heard she was attacked by Harvey Weinstein,” you can imagine how that phone call would go. It would be short.

NARRATOR: Paltrow didn’t address the rumors at the time and never accused him of assault. But she’s since said Weinstein harassed her and that she told her agent, and her then boyfriend, Brad Pitt, who confronted Weinstein.

KIM MASTERS: It’s a hard choice to make. She could take him on, or have her career. And I’m not blaming her for not wanting to take him on. We’ve seen in the aftermath the lengths to which he would go to destroy people who tried to take him on.

NARRATOR: Whatever rumors had been circulating about Harvey Weinstein, his power only grew. Some of the up-and-comers who met him say they were unaware of his reputation.

ZOE BROCK: In 1998, I was 24. modeling around the world. I thought I was tough.

NARRATOR: Zoe Brock met Weinstein at the Cannes Film Festival.

ZOE BROCK: We were taken into the Majestic Hotel to have dinner, and that was where I was sat next to Harvey.

NARRATOR: As the evening was drawing to a close, she says Weinstein offered her a ride.

ZOE BROCK: Then Harvey told us that he’d spoken to everybody and they were going to join us at the Du Cap, where he was staying, which is 30 minutes out of Cannes and quite remote.

NARRATOR: When they arrived at his hotel, she says Weinstein’s entourage disappeared and her friends were nowhere to be seen.

ZOE BROCK: My friends were never coming. That was a blatant lie. So we get to the hotel room. And I remember sobering up fast, and then Harvey walked back in and he was naked. So he’s negotiating. He’s negotiating a massage. “I want a massage. Come on, give me a massage, give me a massage.” Just you know, “Let me give you a massage,” blah, blah, blah, blah, and he’s rapid fire and he takes control of the situation.

I very unwillingly let him maneuver me into his bedroom and sat on the bed. I may have even been stupid enough to lie down. And he started to massage my shoulders, and within seconds, I knew that that was just not going to fly. There was no way this was happening. And I got up and I bolted into the bathroom, and he chased me. But I remember locking the door and him being on the other side of it and banging.

I screamed at him, “Put your [deleted] clothes on, you naughty [deleted] boy! And I meant it. And it worked. I came out of the bathroom and he was apologizing. And he started to cry. And he said something that I have never forgotten and I never will for the rest of my days, in between his tears, “You don’t like me because I’m fat’.

I really felt sorry for him in that moment. At that point, I had no idea, obviously, how dangerous he really was.

NARRATOR: Weinstein’s responses to FRONTLINE do not directly dispute Zoe Brock’s allegations but say she is, quote, “publicizing her lawsuit seeking damages from Mr. Weinstein despite the fact that she never complained to anyone at the time.”

But Zoe Brock says she told many people.

ZOE BROCK: I told my agent. I told so many people in Hollywood, producers, casting agents. Everyone’s reaction across the board was always, “Oh, yeah, Harvey.”

NARRATOR: Her agent denies that she told him. But across Hollywood, many models and actresses now say they told their agents about Weinstein’s behavior.

CATHY SCHULMAN, President, Women in Film: The agents had to know. The top agents had to know. And frankly, any agent who knew what was happening with Harvey Weinstein should be coming forward now, explaining what happened.

NARRATOR: One of the most influential talent firms in Hollywood, Creative Artists Agency, has since said in a statement, quote, “We apologize to any person the agency let down.”

By now, some inside Miramax had started to connect the dots about Weinstein’s behavior.

PAUL WEBSTER: My memory is that I was fully aware that Harvey was a serial womanizer. There’d be times when you’d be kicked out of the suite at the Savoy or the Peninsula Hotel in L.A., and he would entertain. But it didn’t take too much brain power to put it together that a man who was so abusive and bullying in every aspect of his life would bring that abuse into the sexual arena. I think, looking back, that I did know, and I chose to suppress it. I chose to hide from that fact. I think we were all enablers. I think we were. We were all complicit.

Could I have done anything at the time? Well, for one, I never thought of about doing anything about it. I know that I prevented my assistant being called to the Savoy Hotel late at night. I said, “No, you can’t go.” So obviously, I was aware of that. I didn’t have the guts to do anything about it. I think the deal I’d made with the devil was to my advantage.

NARRATOR: With no one in Hollywood calling him out, Weinstein’s alleged behavior continued. Zelda Perkins was one of his assistants.

ZELDA PERKINS: The first time that I traveled alone abroad with him, he insisted that I went into the bathroom while he had a sauna because he needed to do work and I refused to go in the sauna. And he said, “Well, I— this isn’t working. I’m going to have a bath instead.” So, I tried to leave the bathroom, and he said, “You can’t leave. I need to— we need to get this business done.” He was reeling off names of all the actresses that he had had some sort of sexual relations with or who had given him massages or whatever. And I remember looking around at him and saying, “How do you look at yourself in the mirror? How do you— how do you do that?” And I can remember him looking back at me, utterly nonplused and saying, “I have no problem at all.”

NARRATOR: In 1998, Perkins accompanied Weinstein to the Venice Film Festival along with a new colleague.

ZELDA PERKINS: She came to me in a very distressed state and told me that he had assaulted her, that he’d attempted to rape her. I was completely sideswiped by this. I went straight to Harvey and confronted him about what had happened, and he swore on— on the life of his wife and children that absolutely nothing had happened.

NARRATOR: But Perkins didn’t believe him. She and her colleague quit Miramax and went to lawyers in London for advice.

ZELDA PERKINS: There didn’t seem to be any recourse in terms of bringing Harvey to justice. We had no physical proof. We hadn’t gone to the police in— on the Lido in Venice. Really, we— the only option that we were given was to request damages.

NARRATOR: In negotiation with Weinstein’s lawyers, they asked for around $200,000 each, and also insisted on measures that would protect Miramax employees from harassment, therapy sessions for Weinstein, a new HR policy, and a clause that could see him fired if he paid off any more women. Weinstein accepted the terms on condition they sign a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA.

ZELDA PERKINS: We weren’t allowed to talk to anybody about the alleged behavior but also about our time at Miramax. This wasn’t a normal confidentiality agreement. This wasn’t us saying that we weren’t going to, you know, give away corporate secrets. This was a deeply personally binding agreement which certainly in my colleague’s case meant that she couldn’t ever speak about a huge personal trauma that happened to her.

NARRATOR: Perkins would eventually decide to break her NDA, but her former colleague has maintained her silence.

In his statement to FRONTLINE, Weinstein denies the attempted rape allegation and says that, quote, “Ms. Perkins asked for money instead of reporting her claims to the authorities.”

KIM MASTERS: So, you take your check and you try to deal with it as best you can, you know? He got away with it for years just on the strength of that.

NARRATOR: Weinstein went on to use NDAs with multiple women who accused him of sexual misconduct.

In his response to FRONTLINE, he said, “Over a period of 30 years, there were actually less than 10 settlements of harassment claims” and that “none of these settlement agreements prevented any individual from going to the police, had they wished to do so.”

Prof. STEPHEN GILLERS, New York University: The use of NDAs on behalf of Weinstein to silence women who agreed to them was an enabling factor. It allowed him to silence complaining victims and just see it as a cost of doing business. So, he knew that he had nothing to fear from continuing with the behavior that led to the problem in the first place— and again and again and again.

NARRATOR: Four years later, a journalist at The New Yorker magazine heard that Weinstein had been settling sexual harassment claims.

KEN AULETTA, The New Yorker: I had never encountered an NDA, a non-disclosure agreement. And you’re talking about large sums of money, in each case hundreds of thousands of dollars.

NARRATOR: He began to investigate. Then he got a name, Zelda Perkins. She had moved to Guatemala, but he tracked her down.

ZELDA PERKINS: I picked up the phone, and this gentleman asked me directly about whether I had an agreement with Harvey Weinstein.

KEN AULETTA: She was really terrified. “How did you find me?”

ZELDA PERKINS: I think I might have even said, “Yes, I have,” when he said, “Do you have an agreement with Harvey,” and then panicked and was like, “No, no. No, I haven’t. Yes, I have. No, I haven’t. No, I can’t talk to you.” I just knew that one thing I absolutely— in fear of death, I was not allowed to talk to a journalist.

NARRATOR: Perkins wouldn’t agree to an interview for Auletta’s story, but he decided to confront Weinstein.

KEN AULETTA: We were sitting in a small conference room across from each other, and I said, “Harvey, tell me about Zelda Perkins.” And he— he rose and he clenched his fists, and he— he raised his shoulders and he said “This is a” — you can imagine — “an outrage!” And he started screaming at me.

So I thought he was going to throw a punch at me. So, I stood up, and at that point, Harvey started to cry. It was extraordinary. And what he said was, “Ken, you’re going to ruin my marriage. These were consensual relationships. And if you publish this, you’re going to destroy my family.”

NARRATOR: Auletta couldn’t get anyone to speak on the record about the NDAs and allegations of sexual misconduct. He and his editors concluded they couldn’t publish what he’d heard.

KEN AULETTA: I wish I could have nailed the guy in 2002. The problem I had was that I couldn’t prove it. Clearly, people knew or suspected that Harvey was a— was a predator, a sexual predator, and they kept their mouths shut.

NARRATOR: As Weinstein fended off reporters from the mainstream press, he was courting the tabloids.

A.J. BENZA, Writer and Podcaster: Harvey liked to have a good relationship with the media. And I guess because I’m a Brooklyn guy and he’s a Queens guy, he took to me, and we spent some time on the phone, shooting the breeze about what went on last night, where were the parties, what did you do?

NARRATOR: Gossip writer A.J. Benza heard from a source that Weinstein was having an affair.

A.J. BENZA: I called him. He said, “Not true, not true, not true.” And then he called back and said, “OK, there’s something to it. Let’s try to work this out.”

NARRATOR: Although Weinstein denies it, Benza says they cut a deal. He would be paid to supply celebrity gossip that Weinstein could trade with other reporters who dug up dirt on him.

A.J. BENZA: The gossip industry is run on the barter system. If I got a story about you and you don’t want it printed, you say, “Hold it. I’ll get you something better,” and I’ll print the other story and save you. That’s done every day. So what Harvey and I were doing was something that was already— it was always done.

NARRATOR: Despite the rumors about Weinstein at the time, Benza insists he never heard any sexual harassment allegations.

A.J. BENZA: I know it sounds ridiculous, but in the 20 years I knew Harvey, there was never a story about him going after somebody sexually. Finding out now all these women were in some kind of hell with him, no clue, not at all.

NARRATOR: But other reporters in Hollywood were still trying to pin down the rumors they’d heard. Kim Masters, who’d been writing critical stories about Miramax, got a meeting with Weinstein.

KIM MASTERS: I met him at the Peninsula Hotel for the first time, face to face. He comes in and he’s very aggressive, yelling and screaming, “What have you heard about me?” And I sort of had this now or never thing, and I said, “I’ve heard you rape women.” He did not seem shocked or outraged. You would expect a normal person to say, “I’m sorry, what? How dare you?” And there was none of that at all.

NARRATOR: In his response to FRONTLINE, Weinstein said that he wasn’t shocked because he’d already heard the allegation and it was false.

KIM MASTERS: I’d heard really brutal allegations. We couldn’t write about those, we couldn’t get it on the record. I think he kind of believed, as he did with reason for years to come, that he was going to be untouchable.

NARRATOR: Weinstein would eventually leave Miramax after a series of disputes with Disney. He and his brother set up the Weinstein Company. Rumors about his conduct continued to circulate throughout Hollywood, but he kept making hits and winning awards.

STEVEN SPIELBERG: The King’s Speech!

PENELOPE CRUZ: Thank you, Harvey Weinstein.

COLIN FIRTH: And of course, Harvey.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE: Harvey, thank for killing whoever you had to kill to get me up here today.

CATHY SCHULMAN: I think the entire industry knew that he was obsessed with young actresses, that he was a cheater on his wife, and that he, quote, unquote, “made the scene” with many women. I don’t know who actually knew what was happening. It was a time and a place where to be in his circle was to be successful.

MERYL STREEP: I just want to thank my agent, Kevin Huvane, and God, Harvey Weinstein.

NARRATOR: Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, like Meryl Streep, have since said they were unaware of Weinstein’s alleged misconduct. But a handful have admitted they knew, including director Quentin Tarantino. He said, “I knew enough to do more than I did,” and that, “Everyone who was close to Harvey had heard of at least one of those incidents.”

CATHY SCHULMAN: I think there are still a lot of people out there who know way more about what was happening here than what they’ve cared to share. They were in many ways the great enablers for Harvey’s behavior. Being in his grace was allowing them to make their careers more successful. But there were so many times they should’ve said something, stopped something, spoken up.

NARRATOR: In 2011 Weinstein, invited actress Jessica Barth for a business meeting at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.

JESSICA BARTH: He said that there was a role in Sarah Jessica Parker’s new film. And then it very quickly shifted to asking me to give him a naked massage on the bed. I was, like, “You know, I’m married.” And he said— I said, “You are, too, right?” And he said, “Yes, but we have an arrangement.”

So I was, like, “You know what, Harvey? I’m about done with this conversation right now.” So I left. I shut the door and I burst into tears. I told my family, and then I told Seth McFarlane. He was a close friend of mine.

SETH McFARLANE: I’m Seth McFarlane, the host of the Oscars. Congratulations. You five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.

JESSICA BARTH: And then I was, like, “Good, I’m glad. I’m glad he just did that and”— because at that point, nobody was saying anything publicly. I feel like everybody kind of knew about Harvey, but nobody was saying anything publicly. Honestly, there wasn’t any reaction after that. I guess they still wanted to keep making movies and collect their awards and just go on their merry way.

NARRATOR: By 2015, allegations of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct had been whispered among industry insiders for decades, but still hadn’t become public. That was about to change.

It started when Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, a 22-year-old Italian model, went to the New York police. She had just had a meeting with Harvey Weinstein.

LARRY McSHANE, New York Daily News: The story that she told is that shortly after she came in, Harvey Weinstein inquired about whether her breasts were real or not. He groped her breasts. He reached up her skirt, and he tried to kiss her. It degenerates from her coming up there to discuss her career to her fighting this guy off in his office.

NARRATOR: The police wanted evidence. They asked her to meet Weinstein again and this time wear a wire. The next night, she met him at a hotel near his office.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: I’m telling you right now. Get in here.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: What do we have to do here?

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Nothing. I’m going to take a shower. You sit there and have a drink.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: I’m sorry. I cannot—

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Well, come in and—

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: Yesterday was kind of aggressive for me.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: I know. It—

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: I need to know a person to be touched.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: I won’t do a thing.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: I don’t [want to be] touched.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: I won’t do a thing. Please. I swear I won’t. Just sit with me.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: I’m feeling very uncomfortable right now.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Please come in now. When the guy comes with my jacket, you can go.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: Why yesterday you touch my breast?

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Oh, please. I’m sorry. Just come on in. I’m used to that.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: You’re used to that?

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Yes. Come in.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: No, but I’m not used to that.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: I won’t do it again. I will never do another thing to you. Five minutes. Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: No, but I want to leave.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: OK. ‘Bye. Thank you.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: After I left the hotel, I was with the police. I felt completely positive about what I’d done. They were super happy and, like, saying, “Wow, now this person is completely finished. You saved a lot of women.”

LARRY McSHANE: The NYPD arranges to speak with Harvey Weinstein. He’s denying that anything happened. But they felt that the accuser was credible, and these charges were worth pursuing. And that’s what they told the Manhattan district attorney.

NARRATOR: With New York prosecutors now considering whether to press charges, Weinstein for the first time found himself in a story he couldn’t suppress.

NEWSCASTER: Movie Mogul Harvey Weinstein’s facing sexual assault allegations this morning—

LARRY McSHANE: It’s on the front page of The Daily News. It’s on the front page of The New York Post. This is already a huge story.

NEWSCASTER: The stunning Italian model who’s accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse—

NEWSCASTER: The woman alleges that Weinstein grabbed her thigh and chest—

LARRY McSHANE: And so within 36 hours of the news coming out, this was the big story in New York City.

RONAN FARROW, The New Yorker: When Ambra Gutierrez came forward with her allegation, a machine mobilized to shut down these charges, and that included Harvey Weinstein hiring power lawyers. He had one of the most powerful PR teams in the country.

NARRATOR: Weinstein also employed the services of K2, a private intelligence firm usually specializing in corporate investigations and security. No one from K2 would agree to an interview, but a former employee who was there at the time says Weinstein’s request was unusual. We agreed to hide his identity as he still works in the industry.

FORMER K2 EMPLOYEE: Harvey Weinstein came to K2 initially with a matter that they probably wouldn’t take on if it was somebody else. Nobody likes to develop information on somebody who’s accusing a client of sexual misconduct. But Harvey Weinstein being Harvey Weinstein, exceptions were made.

NARRATOR: He says K2 was tasked with investigating Gutierrez’s past in Italy and providing the information to Weinstein.

LARRY McSHANE: Stuff started leaking out of the Weinstein camp about her past.

NEWSCASTER: She once filed a sexual assault suit against a 70-year-old, quote, “sugar daddy.”

LARRY McSHANE: There was a report that she had been sleeping with a 70-year-old man in return for gifts from this guy.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: It lasted for, like, a week, every day something different coming out. Everything was about me being a blackmailer, a prostitute.

NARRATOR: Prosecutors asked to meet with Gutierrez. She had given conflicting accounts of what happened in Italy.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: They were asking me questions like, Are this news real? Like, you’re a prostitute? I was asking them, like, “Did you hear the recording?” They were, like, “Oh, yes, I heard of it, but you have to explain. This situation in Italy is very confusing.” I was, like, “Guys, I mean, I’m the victim.”

NARRATOR: Concerned how her story would play before a jury, the district attorney’s office announced Weinstein would not be prosecuted. Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., declined to be interviewed. His office told FRONTLINE they acted professionally and that what emerged from the audio and subsequent investigation was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law.

LARRY McSHANE: The case rose and fell entirely on a study of the reputation of the accuser. Everybody just focused on Ambra, and nobody focused on the guy that she accused.

NARRATOR: Like other women before her, Gutierrez went on to sign a non-disclosure agreement. She received a million dollars, Weinstein’s biggest known settlement. She says the deal doesn’t prevent her from giving an interview, but she can’t reveal the details of the alleged assault.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: There is 18 pages, like, really, really, like, written in very small letters. And there is a list of different things I can’t do. And yeah, the first of all is silence.

NARRATOR: Although Weinstein hadn’t been charged, an allegation of sexual assault was now in the public domain. Inside the Weinstein Company, executives absorbed the news.

TOM PRINCE, Exec. VP of Physical Production, 2012-17: It was on the front page of The New York Post, and those of us that heard about it and read it kind of looked at each other. I don’t think anybody was too surprised.

NARRATOR: Tom Prince, an executive who left the company last year, is speaking out for the first time. No current executives would agree to an interview.

Prince says he had become concerned about Weinstein’s use of company funds to fly women around the world.

TOM PRINCE: Pretty much on every production, I would get a phone call or an e-mail saying, “We have to fly an actress to the movie set.” And I would always come back and explain to them that this is a one or two-day role, and you know, we’re spending an awful lot of money flying somebody from Paris to Philadelphia or from New York to New Zealand to fulfill a role that could be occupied by a local resident there. But this was a mandate from Harvey. It was a company that was completely and utterly ruled by Harvey. And Harvey was a dictator.

I thought clearly there was something more than the actress’s acting abilities involved with us flying somebody and spending $20,000 on a role that would have cost $2,000 dollars.

NARRATOR: In his response to FRONTLINE, Weinstein denied this and said that he and Prince repeatedly clashed over budgets and other production issues.

And despite Prince’s suspicions, he insists he only ever heard vague rumors about Weinstein’s conduct.

TOM PRINCE: I knew nothing. I would hear things, but they were innuendoes and they were second and third-hand. I didn’t know and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t give it a lot of thought because you’re too buried in doing what you’re trying to do, just trying to survive every day.

NARRATOR: Bob Weinstein, who heads the Weinstein Company, has also said that he and the board had no knowledge of his brother’s alleged misconduct, even though rumors had been circulating within company.

MEGAN TWOHEY: Over the years there were certain people and it wasn’t just assistants it was executives in the company who did have glimpses of predatory behavior.

There were HR officials who were told about his behavior within his own company, there were lawyers who were brought in to strike settlements help him strike settlements. But it's not 100% clear exactly went what went on behind the scenes of the Weinstein company board in 2015, but what’s clear is that the board was aware of the Italian model’s allegation.

NARRATOR: In fact, soon after Ambra Gutierrez’s settlement with Weinstein in 2015, his contract was up for renewal, and the board made some changes aimed at his behavior.

MEGAN TWOHEY: There was a new code of conduct that was put into place that year approved by the board in which they added more explicit language on sexual harassment. They also put some terms in the contract, Harvey’s contract, as well as the contract of other executives in which there would be financial penalties if they violated that code of conduct and the company was required to pay to make any payments or settlements to to to to victims of that misconduct.

So, there were some measures to try to address what they thought might be his misconduct at that time.

NARRATOR: With his new contract, Weinstein’s position at the company was secure. But he was about to come under more pressure from an unexpected quarter.

Over the years, Weinstein had helped raise millions for AmFAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. But the AmFAR board had become concerned. The problem was not sexual misconduct, but a dispute over the proceeds of a charity auction. The charity hired lawyer Tom Ajamie to investigate what exactly happened to the money.

TOM AJAMIE: During the course of our investigation, we had to interview people. We would say to them, “Why did it go here, why did it go there?” The response we would get would be, “Well, before we get into that, do you know that Harvey Weinstein rapes women? Do you know that Harvey Weinstein is a sexual predator?” Now, we had no proof of that, but this is what we were hearing, and it was very disturbing.

NARRATOR: Word about this got back to Weinstein, and he asked Ajamie to meet him.

TOM AJAMIE: He said to me “Tom, you’re spreading rumors about me raping women.” And my response was, “Harvey, I’m not saying that, the community is saying that about you.” And at some point, he got very angry and said “You better be careful, Tom, because I’ve investigated you and you’re not so clean, so be careful.”

NARRATOR: Weinstein has repeatedly denied rape allegations.

TOM AJAMIE: When the meeting ended, he ran up to me and got very close to my face and said, “Please, please sign a non-disclosure agreement. Please don’t tell anyone. Man to man, don’t tell anyone what you’ve learned about me.” And I said, “Harvey, I can’t do that.”

He walked out, he got into the elevator, and as the elevator doors were closing, I was looking at his face and he was looking at my face, and I saw a very sad and desperate man who was now sticking his fingers in various parts of the dyke and trying to prevent the water from leaking out and the entire dam from falling and crushing down on him.

NARRATOR: Weinstein had been trying to silence his accusers for decades, but he was now under increasing scrutiny from multiple news organizations.

MEGAN TWOHEY, The New York Times: There had long been rumors about Harvey Weinstein, and this was the moment in time where The New York Times said, “Let’s put some investigative muscle into this.” And so we spent many, many weeks and many months trying to get women who had had encounters with Weinstein to tell us their stories.

NARRATOR: In October 2017, Harvey Weinstein finally lost control of the story.

NEWSCASTER: Now to the latest on Harvey Weinstein, The New York Times reporting allegations by numerous women who say the Hollywood mogul sexually harassed them—

NARRATOR: It was no longer Hollywood’s open secret. It was news around the world.

NEWSCASTER: Weinstein is accused of sexually harassing female employees and actors—

NARRATOR: The New York Times published multiple allegations of sexual harassment going back decades.

MEGAN TWOHEY: Harvey Weinstein seemed to conduct himself as if he was invincible. So we really kind of held our breath after the story broke wondering if it was going to have an impact.

NARRATOR: Further allegations, some of assault and rape, would follow in The New Yorker. In the following weeks, dozens more women, some famous, some not, would come forward.

ZELDA PERKINS, Asst., Miramax/London, 1994-98: I had no idea of the breadth and enormity of the story. I thought he just preyed on us. That was the most shocking thing, realizing he was a serious predator and he had been seriously abusing people with total impunity for all this time.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: [to reporter] I’m not answering any questions. I know you have a job to do.

NARRATOR: Soon after the news broke, Weinstein was fired from his company and went into therapy

A.J. BENZA: I spoke to Harvey. He doesn’t sound sad and dejected, he sounds a little bit— a little bit humiliated, but I think he’s gearing up for the fight.

NARRATOR: In a statement to FRONTLINE, Weinstein’s spokeswoman said while he denies any non-consensual sexual conduct, he is deeply apologetic to those offended by his behavior.

The spokeswoman said “It is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behavior or consensual sexual contact later regretted with an untrue claim of criminal conduct, and his lawyers will respond in the appropriate legal forum with evidence disproving the claims against him.”

PAUL WEBSTER, Pres. of Production, Miramax, 1995-97: I think Harvey’s career is over. But you know, who knows? Anything can happen.

NARRATOR: As of now, police in Los Angeles, New York and London are investigating rape and sexual assault allegations going back to the 1980s. The New York attorney general’s office has filed a civil rights case against Weinstein and the Weinstein Company – which declared bankruptcy and is now in the process of being sold. And a group of models and actresses is pursuing a class action lawsuit against him.

ZOE BROCK: I don’t want to go down in history as Harvey Weinstein’s assault victim, but I damn well will if it’s going to help put him in jail or it’s going to change the system. I will.

REPORTER: Harvey, you doing OK?

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Guys, I’m not doing OK. I’m trying. I got to get help, guys. You know what? We all make mistakes. Second chance, I hope, OK?

CATHY SCHULMAN: It saddens me that everybody woke up because of Harvey Weinstein. On the other hand, thank God we’ve woken up.

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