New York AG launches civil rights investigation into The Weinstein Co.
ALBANY, New York — State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a civil rights investigation on Monday into The Weinstein Co. following sexual harassment and assault allegations against its co-founder, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
As part of the investigation, the prosecutor’s office issued a subpoena seeking company records on harassment complaints and legal settlements to determine whether any civil rights and anti-discrimination laws were broken.
“No New Yorker should be forced to walk into a workplace ruled by sexual intimidation, harassment or fear,” said Schneiderman, a Democrat. “If sexual harassment or discrimination is pervasive at a company, we want to know.”
The New York City-based company fired Weinstein on Oct. 8 after The New York Times and The New Yorker exposed allegations of sexual assault and harassment spanning decades.
More than three dozen women, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, have publicly accused the entertainment mogul of abuse. Weinstein has denied allegations of nonconsensual sex.
A woman who answered the phone in The Weinstein Co.’s media relations office said the company had no comment on the subpoena or news of the investigation.
Police in Los Angeles, New York City and London are also investigating Harvey Weinstein over allegations of sex abuse in those cities.
The Oscar winner was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Producers Guild of America has started the process of expelling him.
The allegations have prompted calls in Albany to use the power of the state to crack down on harassment. Democratic Assemblywoman Nily Rozic of Queens proposed legislation that would make designers, photographers, retailers and others liable for harassment experienced by models.
Another lawmaker, Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan, proposed legislation that would make companies ineligible for state tax incentives if they fail to address chronic harassment problems in the workplace.
Also Monday, ABC News said Ashley Judd will talk to anchor Diane Sawyer for Judd’s first TV interview since the actress-activist went public with allegations against Weinstein. The interview will air Thursday on ABC News platforms including “Good Morning America” and “Nightline.”
Judd has described an incident two decades ago in which she said he invited her to his hotel room, greeted her wearing a bathrobe and asked if she would watch him shower.
“Good Morning America” aired an interview with Matt Damon and George Clooney on Monday where both acknowledged they were aware of allegations Weinstein had slept with actresses, but not that he had assaulted them. Clooney described him in the interview as “a predator.”
“I knew he was an (expletive),” Damon said. “He was proud of that. … I knew he was a womanizer. I wouldn’t want to be married to the guy, but it’s not my business really. But this level of criminal sexual predation is not something that I ever thought was going on.”
In more Weinstein fallout, a fired Nickelodeon producer facing allegations of sexual harassment expressed regret over his behavior. Chris Savino, creator of the animated series “The Loud House,” posted the apology Monday on his Facebook page.
“I am deeply sorry and I am ashamed,” he wrote. “Although it was never my intention, I now understand that the impact of my actions and communications created an unacceptable environment.”
Savino has been accused of sexual harassment by up to 12 women, according to the website Cartoon Brew, which reports on animation industry news.
Last week, Nickelodeon said it took allegations of misconduct seriously and that Savino was no longer working with the children’s TV channel.