Women Struggled For Years Before Speaking Out Against Harvey Weinstein
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Today more details about Harvey Weinstein - an investigation by The New Yorker magazine tells of a long and deeply disturbing history of sexual misconduct by the film executive. Reporter Ronan Farrow talked to more than a dozen women who say Weinstein harassed or assaulted them. Many say they struggled for years with whether to tell their stories, fearing retribution from someone who was a powerful figure in Hollywood for a long time. Farrow says his investigation started 10 months ago.
RONAN FARROW: This actually came as an assignment that I received. And it was a gradual piecing-together. And I think all the outlets that have worked on this over the years have had a similar experience. When you talk to one woman about this, they refer to having heard from other women about stories that were not just similar in a general sense but had uncanny patterns between them.
MCEVERS: What story stuck out to you?
FARROW: You know, there's a very brave Italian actress, Asia Argento, who tells a story of a rape. And I want to highlight, in particular, a feature of her story that's shared amongst many of these sources which is, she actually readily admits she went back to Harvey Weinstein, you know? - that he had advances afterwards. And in some cases, she submitted to those in a consensual way, you know? She said she was not saying no in the subsequent ones, although she was very precise about having said no repeatedly and about the forcible nature of the first interaction. And that is also part of what has made this story so hard to break - that women feel a sense of guilt...
FARROW: ...And a sense of shame and a sense of complicity.
MCEVERS: You also tell the story of an Italian model. Her name is Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. She had an encounter with Weinstein, and then she went to the New York Police Department to file a complaint against him after she says he assaulted her in his Tribecca office. But while she was talking to members of the Special Victims Unit, he called her. I wonder if you could tell the rest of the story from there.
FARROW: Ms. Gutierrez who declined to comment for the New Yorker story - said she was unable to speak - went to the police immediately, as you recounted. She was with the police when Mr. Weinstein called her. And at the behest of and in collaboration with the police, she went back the next day which, according to multiple sources close to the investigation, was frightening for her and wore a wire and attempted to get incriminating statements corroborating her allegations. And being made public in this New Yorker story I wrote for the first time is the audio that was captured during that sting operation.
MCEVERS: And I wonder if you could just describe that tape for us.
FARROW: In the tape, Mr. Weinstein is attempting to get Ms. Gutierrez to join him in a hotel room. He says, you know, just come in while I take a shower, which is a facet of a lot of these stories. And over time, about two minutes - and you can hear this on the New Yorker website - she, you know, pleads with him not to go in. And you know, it's upsetting audio to listen to because it is so many times of her saying no, I don't want to. But the really pivotal piece of that recording is that she says, point blank, why did you touch my breasts? - which was part of her allegation. And he says, I'm used to that and other statements directly confirming, it appears, that he did, in fact, do this.
MCEVERS: This recording, though, is not a recording that Gutierrez will talk about despite whatever role she had in making it. And you actually write that she signed an affidavit stating that the acts Weinstein admits to the recording never happened. Can you explain this?
FARROW: One of the reasons this is so hard, Kelly, is that many women over and over again through the years have signed nondisclosure agreements with Harvey Weinstein in exchange for very large sums. And I have reviewed one such arrangement in the course of this investigation. And the crux of it is this. He was able to buy silence over and over again. And these agreements are ironclad. They do, you know, in at least that one case, according to sources, include affidavits saying just flatly, you know, he's innocent. And clearly the audio suggests something else.
MCEVERS: You know, people talk about retaliation in your piece. One story that sticks out to me is Rosanna Arquette saying that Harvey Weinstein works very hard to, quote, track people down and silence them and hurt them. I mean, what does she mean? What kind of retaliation did you hear about?
FARROW: Multiple actresses talked about his ability to manipulate the news cycle and negative items being planted. You know, these were women, in many cases, who worked in and on his films. And they depended on him for their income. So they were afraid of losing that. And Rosanna Arquette - and Mira Sorvino is another woman who very bravely spoke in this piece. Both said that they felt they had been denied career opportunities directly as a result of their rejecting what they considered to be inappropriate advances.
MCEVERS: You know, I'm thinking about this all coming to light now. And I live in L.A. And people here in Hollywood are talking a lot about, you know, the fact that Harvey Weinstein isn't as powerful as he once was. He isn't the kingmaker that he once was. And I'm wondering if people feel more comfortable to come forward now because of that. Did you get that sense?
FARROW: Yes. There's many, many executives and assistants, former and current, in this story. And they said one after another that a factor in their decision was that he was less able to hurt them - was one exact quote that was used by one. And look. You've seen that in a number of cases about high-profile men recently that allegations only emerged when their grip on power and success slips.
MCEVERS: Yeah. Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker magazine - his latest investigative article is called "From Aggressive Overtures To Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein's Accusers Tell Their Stories." Thank you very much.
FARROW: Thanks so much, Kelly. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.