The New York attorney general has opened a civil rights investigation into the Weinstein Company following dozens of sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
The state’s top prosecutor has issued a subpoena for records related to sexual harassment and discrimination complaints at the embattled film company, weeks after the movie mogul was fired from the firm he co-founded in the wake of a slew of sexual assault and harassment accusations.
News of the civil rights inquiry and wide-ranging subpoena comes as the list of Weinstein’s accusers has continued to grow, prompting police departments across the globe to begin criminal investigations.
The office of attorney general Eric Schneiderman said it was investigating whether the Weinstein Company, headquartered in New York, violated local civil rights and human rights laws and has sought all documents tied to sexual harassment and gender discrimination cases.
The prosecutor’s civil rights bureau issued the subpoena, which is also seeking records concerning how complaints were handled and resulting settlements. The inquiry is further targeting records related to management’s criteria to hire and promote applicants and employees, the attorney general’s office said.
“No New Yorker should be forced to walk into a workplace ruled by sexual intimidation, harassment, or fear,” Schneiderman said in a statement Monday. “If sexual harassment or discrimination is pervasive at a company, we want to know.”
The attorney general’s office said the subpoena also seeks records that would indicate whether the company launched formal investigations in response to complaints and the reasoning behind those decisions.
Weinstein’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Weinstein Company – the production firm behind critically acclaimed hits such as The King’s Speech, Carol and The Butler – also did not respond to an inquiry.
The corporation is currently at risk of collapsing, according to entertainment industry lawyers, who have said the company is vulnerable to investor and victim lawsuits. The board, which includes Bob Weinstein, Harvey’s brother, has claimed that it had no knowledge of misconduct. Actor Rose McGowan, who has accused Weinstein of rape, has called for the entire Weinstein Company board to resign.
The scandal first erupted with a New York Times investigation alleging that Weinstein reached settlements with at least eight women over accusations of sexual misconduct. The producer would invite women to his hotel room under the guise of a business meeting and then would greet them in the nude, demand a massage or ask that they watch him shower, according to the women.
A later New Yorker story included accounts from multiple women who said Weinstein raped them. A wide range of actors, models and other women have since shared their own allegations of the producer’s misconduct, including Lupita Nyong’o, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne, Léa Seydoux and Romola Garai.
Some have said that that strict non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) have prevented them from speaking out. Zelda Perkins, who says Weinstein sexually harassed her when she was his assistant, publicly broke her NDA in an interview published on Monday, saying, “I want to call into question the legitimacy of agreements where the inequality of power is so stark and relies on money rather than morality.”
Perkins said she was pressured into signing an agreement after she confronted Weinstein about an alleged sexual assault against her colleague at a film festival in Venice in 1998.
Weinstein has apologized for causing pain, but has said he denies many of the claims of harassment and “unequivocally” denies allegations of “non-consensual sex”.
The controversy has inspired women in Hollywood and other industries to publicly share stories of sexual assault in recent weeks. In an unprecedented move, Weinstein was recently expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Police investigations are now underway in New York City, London and Los Angeles, and some legal experts say Weinstein could ultimately face serious sexual assault charges.
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