The outline has been sketched out for weeks now, but Ronan Farrow’s latest New Yorker investigation fills in striking new details about how Harvey Weinstein used non-disclosure agreements and personal bank accounts — including brother Bob Weinstein’s — to dodge sexual harassment and assault claims.
The article foregrounds two accusers: Filipino-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who ended up recording a 2015 hotel encounter with Weinstein, and former Weinstein assistant Zelda Perkins, who worked in London during the Miramax era. Both spoke to Farrow in violation of NDAs they signed, and the article spotlights the growing practice of using NDAs to resolve sexual assault cases. In some instances, attorneys for victims say they may prefer NDAs to keep matters private, but most often the agreements ensure that the matter can go undetected for, in Weinstein’s case, several decades.
The settlement that came with Perkins’ NDA and one other was funded by Bob Weinstein’s personal bank account, for a sum of 250,000 British pounds, or about $600,000 today, the article claims. The point was to hide the money from Disney, which then owned Miramax. Bob Weinstein acknowledged the payment to Farrow, but insisted he did not know its true purpose. “Regarding that payment, I only know what Harvey told me, and basically what he said was he was fooling around with two women and they were asking for money,” he said. “And he didn’t want his wife to find out, so he asked me if I could write a check, and so I did, but there was nothing to indicate any kind of sexual harassment.”
That contention, which is disputed by other sources in the article, could prove problematic for Bob Weinstein, who is trying to maintain a position at the company he co-founded as TWC evolves into a completely different company post-scandal. Deadline reported exclusive details on Sunday of a $275 million bid by Maria Contreras-Sweet that would install a female-dominated leadership structure at the company.
The article also quotes Irwin Reiter, who worked for Harvey Weinstein for nearly 30 years and is now SVP Accounting at The Weinstein Company. He told Farrow he was speaking out to break the culture of silence at the company. “I hope there’s no reprisal,” he is quoted as saying. Weinstein “was so dominant that I think a lot of people were afraid of him, afraid to confront him, or question him, and that was the environment.” He questioned the validity of NDAs. “A forever NDA should not be legal. … People should not be made to live with that. He’s created so many victims that have been burdened for so many years, and it’s just not right.”
Perkins makes a similar point. “What I want to talk about at this point is not what Harvey did,” Perkins is quoted as saying. “It’s more about the system that protected him and that enabled him, because that’s the only thing that we can change. Money and power enabled, and the legal system has enabled. Ultimately, the reason Harvey Weinstein followed the route he did is because he was allowed to, and that’s our fault. As a culture, that’s our fault.”