Six women have filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, claiming that the Hollywood producer engaged in civil racketeering to cover up a string of alleged sexual assaults.
In a class-action lawsuit filed at a federal court in New York, the six plaintiffs have asked to be considered as a class representing “hundreds of other women in the entertainment industry” who have made claims against Weinstein.
The filing claims The Weinstein Company, the film studio co-founded by Weinstein and his brother Bob in 2005, formed part of the “Weinstein Sexual Enterprise” that worked with the producer to conceal his alleged widespread sexual harassment and assaults.
“The Weinstein Sexual Enterprise had many participants, grew over time as the obfuscation of Weinstein’s conduct became more difficult to conceal,” it says.
Work by the “Weinstein Sexual Enterprise” to “facilitate and conceal (Harvey Weinstein’s) pattern of unwanted sexual conduct” violates the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the lawsuit alleges.
The six actresses named in the complaint – Louisette Geiss, Katherine Kendall, Zoe Brock, Sarah Ann Masse, Melissa Sagemiller and Nannette Klatt – all claim they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein after being “lured” to meetings or auditions.
Weinstein conducted a meeting with Masse in his underwear, embraced her in “a sexual manner” and refused to give her a job when she did not take him up on sexual propositions, the lawsuit claims.
In a statement, the plaintiffs said: “Harvey Weinstein is a predator. Bob 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.
“Let’s finally do something about it.”
A lawyer for Weinstein declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The 65-year-old faces claims from dozens of women and is being investigated by police in London, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and New York.
Among the mogul’s accusers is actress Dominique Huett, who is suing The Weinstein Company in a £3.8m negligence lawsuit.
Weinstein has “unequivocally denied” allegations of non-consensual sex.
His lawyers said: “Mr Weinstein has never at any time committed an act of sexual assault, and it is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behaviour or consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of criminal conduct.
“There is a wide canyon between mere allegation and truth, and we are confident that any sober calculation of the facts will prove no legal wrongdoing occurred.
“Nonetheless, to those offended by Mr Weinstein’s behaviour, he remains deeply apologetic.”