Following a New York Times inquiry, testimonies have piled up against Hollywood magnate Harvey Weinstein. Facing multiple accusations of sexual assault dating back decades, the producer has been fired from his own company as women continue to come forward with chilling accounts of harassment.
This week, the New Yorker has delved even further into the story, detailing accounts from three women who claim that Weinstein raped them.
Italian actor Asia Argento, former aspiring actor Lucia Evans and a third woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, accused the producer of forcing them to perform or receive oral sex and forcing vaginal sex.
Each woman describes feeling powerless and fearful for their future careers, worried that Weinstein would use his influence to ruin their lives.
Following Rose McGowan, Hayley Atwell and Romola Garai, other names, including Angelina Jolie, Emma de Caunes and Gwyneth Paltrow have now spoken to the New Yorker or the New York Times of their scarring experiences with the offender.
'The fear turns him on'
One of the most disturbing accounts comes from French actor Emma de Caunes who describes being approached by Harvey Weinstein while he was on the hunt for a lead to head a new project back in 2010.
During an interview at the Ritz in Paris, the producer spoke of a book adaptation but pretended that the title of the novel had escaped him, inviting de Caunes to his room to find it.
First refusing, the actor finally gave in to Weinstein's insistence. Once in the room, de Caunes describes receiving a phone call, during which time the producer disappeared into the bathroom before reemerging naked and with an erection. He then demanded that she lie on the bed explaining that many women had done so before her. Describing her panic to the New Yorker, de Caunes explains:
"I didn’t want to show him that I was petrified, because I could feel that the more I was freaking out, the more he was excited. It was like a hunter with a wild animal. The fear turns him on."
De Caunes then told the producer that she was going to leave, to which he responded: "We haven’t done anything! It’s like being in a Walt Disney movie!" In a serious show of bravery, the actor explains what happened next:
"I looked at him and I said – it took all my courage – but I said, 'I’ve always hated Walt Disney movies.' And then I left. I slammed the door."
In the hours following the incident, Harvey Weinstein called de Caunes relentlessly, repeating that nothing had happened and offering her gifts. A director from a TV show de Caunes was working on at the time confirms that she then arrived on set distraught and explained what had happened to her.
'I was petrified'
In a similar account, Gwyneth Paltrow describes a meeting that took place decades ago, during which the producer had promised to 'make her a star.'
Aged 22 at the time and working on the movie adaptation of Emma, Paltrow describes how Weinstein put his hands on her legs and suggested they go to his room for massages. She says: "I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified."
She then confided in Brad Pitt who confronted the producer, prompting him to warn her not to tell anyone else about the incident. Angelina Jolie delivered her testimony by email, saying:
"I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did."
Beyond the chilling accounts, a compromising audio recording of Weinstein has also emerged. According to the Huffington Post, the NYPD had equipped Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez with a microphone as part of a sting operation to take place during a meeting with the producer at the Tribeca Grand Hotel.
In the recording, the young woman is heard refusing Weinstein's advances and requests to come to his bathroom, responding that she is not comfortable. We also then hear her ask why the producer had touched her breast during a professional interview, to which he responds: "Oh, please. I'm sorry. Just come on in. I'm used to that."
Gutierrez refuses repeatedly, leading Weinstein to threaten her, saying: "Don't ruin your friendship with me for five minutes." Nonetheless, following a two-week investigation, the decision was made not to file charges.
Italian actor Asia Argento describes how Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in a hotel in 1997, fearing that he would "crush" her career if she refused. She describes feeling unable to defend herself and letting him continue just so the encounter would end. She says:
"He terrified me, and he was so big. It wouldn’t stop. It was a nightmare."
Sadly, like so many victims, her inability to fight back ultimately made her feel "responsible." But after years of keeping quiet, Weinstein's accusers are finally breaking their silence, allowing other victims to come forward.
Weinstein's wife Georgina Chapman announced on Tuesday that she planned to commence divorce proceedings. She said in a statement:
"My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions. I have chosen to leave my husband."
The Guardian, for its part, has reached out to over twenty men who have worked with Weinstein in the past. Many, however, have failed to respond, leading the publication to share a list of those opting not to speak out.
Many other chilling accounts have been shared by the New Yorker and it is highly likely that some incidents have not even been reported yet. Winding off with a direct quotation by Weinstein overheard by a former employee, the report concludes with the chilling words:
"There are things I’ve done that nobody knows."