Now serving a 23-year-prison sentence, convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein may once again face a legal battle — this time he wouldn’t be alone.
On May 28, four women filed a sexual abuse lawsuit in New York, naming Weinstein, his brother and former producing partner, Robert Weinstein, and the Walt Disney Company, which owned the Weinstein’s company Miramax at the time of one of the alleged assaults.
The charges include the rape of a minor, Deadline reports, with an accuser, Jane Doe II, claiming that in 1994 Harvey Weinstein “falsely imprisoned, sexually assaulted, sexually battered and raped” her when she was “approximately seventeen years old,” according to the filing, and subsequently threatened to “physically harm” her and her family and ruin her film career if she spoke out.
From 1993 to 2010, the Walt Disney Company owned Miramax, but two other accusers, seeking unspecified damages and an injunction “restraining Defendants from engaging in such unlawful conduct,” claim to have been assaulted before and after Disney had control of the company, with Jane Doe I claiming that Weinstein falsely imprisoned and raped her in his hotel room at the Cannes in 1984, when she was 34 and Jane Doe IV stating she was sexually assaulted by the producer in 2013 at the Venice Film Festival when she was 28. The fourth accuser claims to have been raped in a New York hotel in 2008, when she was 26. All of the accusers claimed to have been promised opportunities to advance their careers in film.
Disney and Weinstein’s brother have been named in past complaints, including one involving an underage accuser. The May 28 filing claims that Disney, as Weinstein’s employer from 1993 to 1999 “exercised oversight and control over Harvey Weinstein,” and, along with Robert Weinstein kept his “propensities” under wraps to the film industry.
“The Weinsteins operated and managed their business with virtual autonomy,” a Disney spokesperson told Deadline, in response to the filing. “There is absolutely no legal basis for claims against the company and we will defend against them vigorously.”
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.