Wayne Levin, who was general counsel for Lionsgate for 17 years, resigned in 2017 after a subordinate accused him of physical and sexual abuse and workplace harassment, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Wendy Jaffe, who left the company in 2016, told the paper about a previously undisclosed sequence of events stretching for more than a decade. Levin’s departure was noted in a passing line in a recent regulatory filing, which said he resigned for “health and personal reasons.” His attorney said he had considered leaving “for personal and medical reasons” before the allegations, and former colleagues confirmed to the Journal that he had health problems.
The accusations were formally settled in December 2016, with Lionsgate paying Jaffe $2.5 million.
Levin, 55, was an instructor at Southwestern Law School and had Jaffe, 46, in one of his classes. She went to work for him at Lionsgate after her graduation, and the two soon began what Jaffe calls an S&M-style sexual relationship initiated by Levin. Over time, the unwanted sexual contact diminished but the work relationship, she told the Journal in multiple interviews, grew fraught. “It was never really about sex, it was about controlling someone and asserting power and that continued even when the physical component stopped,” she told the Journal.
Levin did not comment to the Journal, but his attorney showed the paper emails written by Jaffe that he characterized as contradicting her claims, including one calling him “a good man.” She said she only wrote the messages in a bid to get Levin to stop his behavior.
As the #MeToo movement swept across the industry last fall, senior executives at Lionsgate urged Levin to step down, the Journal said.
A company spokesman issued a statement to Deadline in response to the article. “We never comment on specific personnel actions,” the statement said, “but we take sexual harassment allegations very seriously, investigate them thoroughly and independently and take appropriate remedial action. We are committed to a safe, respectful and tolerant environment for all of our employees.”
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