Harvey Weinstein went through great lengths to cover up his decades of sexual misconduct — so great, some alleged victims believe it amounts to civil racketeering.
The disgraced movie mogul and The Weinstein Company have been hit with a class-action lawsuit filed by six women who say Weinstein sexually assaulted them when they auditioned for him or met him at company sponsored events.
The plaintiffs seek to be certified as a class to sue on grounds of racketeering, civil battery, assault, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The lawsuit, which aims to represent a class of “dozens, if not hundreds” of Weinstein’s alleged victims, claims the indie film producer was aided by a coalition of companies and individuals that worked with the producer to cover up his widespread sexual misconduct.
Entities of this so-called “Weinstein Sexual Enterprise” included Weinstein’s staff, board members, hired operatives, attorneys, and National Enquirer writers — all of whom allegedly violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
The lawsuit claims:
“Each participant in the Weinstein Sexual Enterprise had a systematic linkage to each other participant through corporate ties, contractual relationships, financial ties, and the continuing coordination of their activities.”
Ick. These claims don’t come as much of a surprise given what has already come to light about Weinstein’s attempts to cover up his predatory tracks.
Last month, the New Yorker alleged the producer employed an “army of spies” to track and intimidate journalists and his alleged victims, including Rose McGowan and Asia Argento.
The plaintiffs’ attorney Steve Berman confirmed this report is the basis for the lawsuit’s RICO allegations, telling The Daily Beast:
“We think these entities, the army of spies, as one article called it, were all facilitating and using wires and mails to orchestrate. This A: allowed [Weinstein] to continue doing this over the years, and B: covered it up. When you’re using wires and mails ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥which are governed by the Racketeering Act ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ for the illegal purpose of raping and sexually harassing, that falls squarely within RICO.”
The plaintiffs include screenwriter/actress Louisette Geiss, actresses Katherine Kendall, Zoe Brock, Sarah Ann Thomas, Melissa Sagemiller, and Nanette Klatt. Each allege the familiar story of being lured into industry events, hotel rooms, Weinstein’s home, office meetings, or auditions under the pretense that they would be discussing a project.
The defendants include Weinstein’s brother, Robert; the company they founded, Miramax; along with several former Weinstein Company board members.
[Image via FayesVision/WENN.]