How the New Yorker’s explosive expose on Harvey Weinstein came together – ABC News
Ronan Farrow, who wrote the extensive New Yorker exposé on the allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, said every woman who shared their specific story hoped coming forward would stop this from happening to another woman.
“These women told me they were speaking because they thought remaining silent could jeopardize the next woman to come along,” Farrow told ABC News’ Juju Chang in an interview for “Nightline.” “They really felt that although it was hard for them to speak, they had to.
“This reveals the ability of a very powerful man to silence claims for a very long time,” he added.
Farrow’s New Yorker story, published Tuesday, followed a New York Times report published less than a week ago documenting the film producer’s alleged behavior, as well as reported settlements reached over the accusations. The Times followed with an additional story Tuesday, in which actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie shared their personal stories of alleged harassment at the hands of Weinstein.
Farrow told “Nightline” that he spoke to one woman who had raised an allegation against Weinstein and it led him to others with similar stories. What resulted was a 10-month-long investigation in which Farrow said he interviewed more than a dozen former and current Weinstein employees, who together painted what he said was a picture of “a culture of complicity” and “of fear that kept them from talking.”
It was especially difficult for Weinstein’s alleged victims to decide to come forward, according to Farrow.
“It was complicated for each woman in this story,” Farrow said. “Sometimes it took months and months for them to decide to go on the record. These were not women banging down the doors of media companies. These were brave women, struggling with what to do. But it was a process, I think, for each of them. Each of them talked about their own fears of what they believed he [Weinstein] might do to them, how they believed people around them would react, how they believed it would affect their careers, and so that was a lot to process for every woman in this story.”
Thirteen female alleged victims are referred to in Farrow’s story, three of whom allege rape or being forced into sex acts.
“Many of them had profound feelings of guilt about not speaking out sooner,” he said. “This is the hardest topic in the world for anyone to talk about. It’s the last thing any of these women want to open up again. Many of them have been profoundly damaged by it. ‘Damaged’ is a word that a number of these women used, you know Asia Argento, who very bravely describes what she alleges to be a rape in this story, said, ‘I’m shaking just talking about this.'”
Argento, an Italian film actress and director, released “Scarlet Diva,” a movie that she wrote and directed, in 2000. In the film, a heavyset producer corners the character named Anna, who is played by Argento, in a hotel room, asks her for a massage and tries to assault her. In her interview with Farrow, Argento said that scene is a depiction of what she alleges Weinstein did to her when she was a rising 21-year-old actress in 1999.
Many of these women’s stories, Farrow said, contained similar patterns, including allegations of professional meetings being moved abruptly to hotel rooms with staffers sometimes, they claimed, “providing cover” for Weinstein.
And what allegedly happened to the women when they were with him, Farrow said, showed a pattern too.
“A lot of it involved hotel rooms, showers, unwanted touching… a lot of exposing himself,” he said.
In an audio recording of a New York Police Department sting operation in 2015, obtained by The New Yorker and verified by ABC News with the NYPD, Weinstein seems to admit to groping a Filipina-Italian model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, describing it as behavior he is “used to.” On the tape, he tries to convince her to come into his room, and only after almost two minutes of back-and-forth in the hallway does Weinstein finally end his efforts to get her to stay.
“There is an evident problem with the understanding of ‘no’ in this recording, as far as I can hear,” Farrow said. “I mean the number of times this woman says she is uncomfortable, that she wants to leave, it is upsetting to listen to, obviously. She says flat out ‘no’ repeatedly, and then, of course, there’s also the very significant fact that he concedes that this conduct took place, and describes it as something he is ‘used to.'”
The NYPD said the case was never prosecuted. According to the New Yorker, after the D.A.’s office decided not to press charges, Gutierrez “signed a highly restrictive nondisclosure agreement” with Weinstein, including “an affidavit stating that the acts Weinstein admits to in the recording never happened,” in exchange for a payment.
“If we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have,” said Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman-Agnifilo in a statement to ABC News. “Mr. Weinstein’s pattern of mistreating women, as recounted in recent reports, is disgraceful and shocks the conscience.”
When reached by ABC News for comment, Gutierrez said, “There were two years where I lost a lot in my life, but I wanted to help others. I’m happy now no one will suffer anymore.”
The New Yorker quotes Weinstein spokesperson Sallie Hofmeister, saying, “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.”
Weinstein, 64, wrote in a statement that he “respect[s] all women and regret[s] what happened,” adding, “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain.” He was fired from the company he co-founded shortly after The New York Times report was published.
“In light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days, the directors of The Weinstein Company … have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his employment with The Weinstein Company is terminated, effective immediately,” according to a statement from the company’s board of directors to ABC News on Sunday.
But even with Weinstein’s firing, Megan Twohey, a New York Times reporter who co-authored the story on these allegations, said she believes the story will continue “for weeks to come, if not longer.”
“Right now, there have been allegations that we’ve been able to document going back decades and settlements,” she told “Good Morning America” Tuesday. “But there’s still questions about who knew what and when — not just within the company, but within Hollywood in general.”
The Weinstein allegations follow a string of recent allegations of sexual misconduct against public figures, including Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby and President Donald Trump. All of them have denied wrongdoing. Farrow said he believes the women featured in his report wanted their stories to be public.
“I think the fact that we’re seeing reports now is a positive testament to the way the culture is changing,” he said. “It’s pretty clear that there have been cases of powerful men abusing their power … and that’s one reason why I think it’s so important what these women have done, coming forward.”
ABC News’ Aaron Katersky, Allison Weiner, Adam Kelsey, Nicole Pelletiere and David Caplan contributed to this report.