*Attorneys have hit Harvey Weinstein, his companies and members of The Weinstein Company Holdings’ Board of Directors with a class-action lawsuit on behalf of six women representing a proposed class of hundreds of actresses who suffered sexual assault and other acts at the hands of the movie mogul.
The suit states that the defendants facilitated Weinstein’s organized pattern of predatory behavior, equating to an enterprise that violates the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act, the same law brought against members of the Mafia for organized criminal behavior.
The suit’s six plaintiffs allege that they each were separately and systematically lured into isolating and intimidating environments by Weinstein, under false pretenses of industry-related meetings. They were assaulted, imprisoned in hotel rooms, airplanes and his home, and faced career-ending threats if they refused his unwanted advances and requests.
In the instance of plaintiff, Sarah Ann Thomas, “Weinstein conducted the interview in his underwear, embraced Thomas in a sexual manner, and did not give her the job when she did not take him up on his sexual propositions.”
“Weinstein’s widespread sexual misconduct did not occur without the help of others,” the suit states. “Rather, over time, Weinstein enlisted the aid of other firms and individuals to facilitate and conceal his pattern of unwanted sexual conduct. This coalition of firms and individuals became part of the growing ‘Weinstein Sexual Enterprise,’ a RICO enterprise.”
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The lawsuit brings various charges against Weinstein, his companies, and members of The Weinstein Company’s Board of Directors for violating the RICO Act, witness tampering, mail and wire fraud, assault, civil battery, negligent supervision and retention, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Weinstein allegedly enlisted teams of private investigators, and even a National Enquirer exec to dig up dirt on his accusers, including Rose McGowan. The suit’s six plaintiffs claim his intent was to use the info to discredit accusers.
The suit also alleges that Weinstein tried to force an up-and-coming actress to perform sexual acts on him by telling her that actresses Charlize Theron and Renée Zellweger paid their dues and ended up stars.
As noted by The Blast, one of the women, Melissa Sagemiller, claims she met with Weinstein in 2000 at his hotel room while filming the movie “Get Over It.” She says he asked for a massage and a kiss and when she refused he told her about “sexual favors” given by Zellweger and Theron, saying, “Don’t you want your career to be more than just this little teen film?”
Sagemiller says she eventually gave into the kiss, but nothing more.
The suit highlights that at all times, Weinstein’s victims and those who met to discuss projects or audition for him “operated under duress and the threat of being blacklisted” by Weinstein and major producers at Miramax if they refused, or spoke up.