Six women sue Harvey Weinstein and his company in class action lawsuit
By Hadas Gold, CNN Money
A group of women who have accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and abuse filed a class action lawsuit against the producer, his company Miramax and their board members for what they allege is organized criminal behavior to cover up Weinstein’s actions for years.
The six women filed the suit in the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, saying they are serving as a proxy for the “hundreds of other women in the entertainment industry who suffered false imprisonment, rape and other instances of harassment.”
“Harvey Weinstein is a predator. Bob (Weinstein) knew it. The board knew it. The lawyers knew it. The private investigators knew it. Hollywood knew it. We knew it. Now the world knows it,” the plaintiffs said in a joint statement released on Wednesday.
The defendants, the women said in a statement, “colluded together to perpetuate and conceal Weinstein’s widespread sexual harassment and assaults.” The fourteen counts include “witness tampering, mail and wire fraud, assault, civil battery, negligent supervision and retention, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
Louisette Geiss, Katherine Kendall, Zoe Brock, Sarah Ann Masse, Melissa Sagemiller and Nannette Klatt are suing Weinstein, his company Miramax, his brother Bob Weinstein, and former Weinstein Company board members Dirk Ziff, Tim Sarnoff, Marc Lasry, Tarak Ben Ammar, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg, Jeff Sackman, James Dolan and Paul Tudor Jones.
The six plaintiffs provided details of Weinstein’s alleged harassment and assault, before going on to cite what they say was essentially “racketeering” in order to cover up his misdeeds. The lawsuit cites several media reports that exposed Weinstein’s alleged behavior, including articles from the New Yorker and one published on Tuesday from the New York Times that detailed how the producer procured a network of journalists and associates who helped keep his actions from going public.
Weinstein has denied any instances of “non-consensual” sex and has denied that there were ever any “acts of retaliation.” Weinstein’s representatives did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
“We hope Mr. Weinstein’s legal and PR teams decide to change their tactics and submit a full mea culpa and admission of the wrongs perpetrated by both him and his enablers. We hope the board—particularly Robert Weinstein—feels the full weight of the secrets they kept. It is our fervent hope that these men will choose to go down in history as redemptive characters, not as men who helped cover up rape culture,” the plantiffs said in a statement.
Miramax said its current iteration has been independent of the Weinsteins for more than 10 years.
“Miramax joins the entire film community in condemning Harvey Weinstein and his unspeakable actions,” a spokesperson said. “Miramax has been completely independent of Harvey – since he and Bob Weinstein left The Walt Disney Company to found The Weinstein Company. Twelve years and two ownership changes later, Miramax is a very different company. We at Miramax are proud of that difference.”
A spokeswoman for Dolan, who is also the owner of the New York Knicks, said they were still reviewing the complaint and did not have a comment except to state that “Mr. Dolan is confident that he acted appropriately in all matters relating to his time on the Weinstein board.”
Lasry, who is co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
A spokesperson for Jones said he had no comment on the lawsuit. Earlier on Wednesday, Jones sent a note to his staff, which his spokesperson shared with CNN, saying he only learned about the allegations surrounding Weinstein when media reports first came out.
“They were 100% a surprise to me,” Jones wrote. “I joined the Weinstein Company Board as an unpaid, outside member in late 2015, after the internal company debate about Harvey’s contract renewal. I never knew about those discussions or any of the revelations until they began to surface publicly, and I resigned two days later.”
Bob Weinstein, Sarnoff, Ben Ammar, Maerov, Koenigsberg, Sackman or their representatives did not respond to requests for comment. CNN was unable to reach Ziff.