As the Weinstein scandal has unfolded over the past week, executives at the company and its diminished board of four directors insisted they knew nothing about financial settlements reached with women who were sexually harassed by co-founder Harvey Weinstein.
On Tuesday, amid new allegations of extreme sexual misconduct and sexual assault, the board issued a statement labeling the matter “an utter surprise” and asserting that any “suggestion that the Board had knowledge of this conduct is false.” Co-chairman Bob Weinstein and chief operating officer David Glasser, who has been expected to move into the CEO role as the company confronts a post-Harvey future, told employees in a video conference that they were completely blindsided by the waves of reports documented by the Times and the New Yorker.
But a report overnight in the New York Times, based on an interview with longtime company attorney David Boies and internal company documents, charges that the board has been aware of the payments since at least 2015. Boies, who represented Harvey Weinstein when his contract came up for renewal in 2015, told the Times the board and the company were made aware then of three or four confidential settlements with women.
Lance Maerov, the board member who handled the contract negotiations, said in an interview with the Times that he had been told of settlements, but said that he had assumed they were used to cover up consensual affairs. Glasser declined to comment to the newspaper, as did Bob Weinstein. Tarak Ben Ammar and Richard Koenigsberg, the other members of the board, did not respond to messages from the Times.
Ben Ammar told French television on Wednesday night that Weinstein had “violated the charter and we fired him within the hour.” The Franco-Tunisian businessman was referring to the company’s code of conduct that employees of TWC sign which covers “verbal, physical, sexual and racist aggression.” He told news channel LCI that he couldn’t speak about the ongoing investigation convened by the board, but said the company has “proof.” He did not elaborate.
He also noted that Weinstein re-signed the code of conduct in 2015 after revelations that he had groped Italian model Ambra Battilana Guttierez. An audio recording, captured when Gutierrez worked with New York City police and wore a wire in a subsequent encounter with Weinstein, proved damning but did not result in any charges as prosecutors declined to move forward with a case, citing insufficient evidence.