The Weinstein Co. was sued for racketeering by six women who claim the company helped facilitate and conceal “widespread sexual misconduct” by Harvey Weinstein that led to the producer’s ouster.
The suit is the latest to target a company now in peril amid a drumbeat of allegations against Weinstein. The women who sued Wednesday are actresses or screenwriters who claim they were assaulted or mistreated by Weinstein after meeting with him for auditions or to pitch projects. The company, its directors and Miramax, the studio Weinstein formerly ran, helped enable his conduct, along with corporate intelligence and law firms, they say.
“Plaintiffs, and hundreds of other females like them, found themselves with Weinstein on the casting couch at offices, in hotel rooms, in his homes, or in rooms at industry functions,” the women said in the complaint.
Weinstein was ousted from the company he founded in October over allegations by numerous women that he harassed or assaulted them. The claims have been followed by accusations of similar misconduct against numerous powerful men in entertainment, media and politics.
Actress Louisette Geiss and the other women say they “had or wanted to have careers in the entertainment industry and correctly understood that Harvey Weinstein was a powerful force in the production world,” and worried that they could be “blacklisted” if they refused his advances or complained about his behavior.
Weinstein’s lawyers said in a statement that he never used company resources for personal expenditures and paid for every settlement personally with the knowledge of the company and its lawyers. They denied that Weinstein ever sexually assaulted anyone while saying he remains “deeply apologetic” to those who were offended by his behavior.
The suit also names Weinstein, his company’s directors and Miramax.
The case is Geiss v. Weinstein Cos, 17-cv-09554, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).