A newly released video shows disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein behaving inappropriately during a business meeting with a woman who would later allege that he raped her that same day.
The video, which was first obtained by Sky News, shows Weinstein hugging, touching and making sexually suggestive comments to Melissa Thompson, 28, during a meeting at The Weinstein Company offices in Manhattan in September 2011. Thompson was there to pitch her tech start-up company’s new video and analytics service.
You can see an excerpt of the video below (and the full video here):
The meeting starts with a hug from Weinstein, who rubs his hand along her back and says, “That’s nice, let’s keep it up.” As the meeting begins, Weinstein continually tries to steer things in a flirtatious direction, asking her, “So am I allowed to flirt with you?”
At one point during the meeting, Thompson jokes, “Data’s so hot right now.” Weinstein replies, “It is hot. You’re hot. Let me have a little part of you. Give it to me. It’s okay, would you like to do it some more?” Thompson told Sky that at this point, Weinstein ran his hand up her leg under her dress. She replies uncomfortably in the video, “That’s a little high, that’s a little high.”
“Now I see he’s trying, in any way he can, to move me into that zone of comfortable then uncomfortable and confused, and vulnerable, and recognizing that he’s powerful and I’m not, and that I need this deal from him, and he has the power to give it to me,” Thompson told Sky News while re-watching the video with them. “I think [he] was playing a cat-and-mouse game from the very beginning to see how far he could push me, and what my reactions might be, so that he could gauge… how he would play me; where my levers where, what were my vulnerabilities.”
After the meeting, Thompson says Weinstein arranged to meet her a few hours later at the Tribeca Grand Hotel lobby restaurant to complete the deal. “It wasn’t at 10 p.m., it wasn’t an invitation to go to his hotel room, it was an invitation to come to a hotel lobby that was within blocks of the office and so that to me felt much safer than being alone with him in his office,” she said. When she got there, he took her to his hotel room instead, where she claims he raped her. “If I would try to fight myself away from him, he would then move around to a place where he could block me in. I constantly felt trapped, no matter where I turned. He [cornered] me, over and over again,” she added.
Weinstein’s attorney Benjamin Brafman said in a statement: “Several respected journalists and trustworthy individuals have seen the entire video. What they shared with us is that the video, when viewed in its entirety, in context and not in select excerpts, demonstrates that there is nothing forceful, but casual—if not awkward—flirting from both parties. Anything short of that is intended to make Mr. Weinstein appear inappropriate, and even exploitative.”
Dozens of woman have accused Weinstein of harassment, intimidation, sexual assault and rape. He has been charged with rape and sexual assault in NYC. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently postponed a state probe of Manhattan DA Cy Vance’s handling of the sexual assault charges against Weinstein, which Cuomo defended by saying he “didn’t want to interfere with that criminal investigation” into Weinstein.
A judge presiding over the Weinstein sex assault lawsuits apparently was cracking jokes in court about Weinstein’s behavior this week: “We all know what was going on,” said Manhattan Federal Court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein. “He was not attractive in such a way that Paul Newman was attractive. He wanted sex.”