When the New York Times did an exposé on film mogul Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment, it took the nation by storm. The story caused a cascade of chaos for Weinstein and the Weinstein Co.
Weinstein has been ousted from the company, which he co-founded with his brother Bob. The Times report said he has reached settlements on sexual harassment allegations with at least eight women since 1990, including actress Ashley Judd and several former employees. In total, 13 women had come forward, the story said, including three who claimed Weinstein raped them.
Since that report, several other prominent actresses have stepped forward with stories of their own abuse at Weinstein’s hands. They include Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette, Mira Sorvino, Louisette Geiss and Italian star Asia Argento. “This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable,” said Jolie.
Weinstein promised an aggressive response to the Times’ allegations, but his attorney and an adviser have withdrawn from representing him. Congressional Democrats, including Chuck Schumer, have given to charity whatever donations they received from Weinstein. In Hollywood, a chorus of critics seems to follow Weinstein’s every move.
At the company, several members of the board of directors have stepped down. Bob Weinstein will step up to lead the company with three other remaining board members.
All in all, it has been an amazingly fast fall from grace for a man whom Meryl Streep once called “God.” Will other leaders accused of sexual harassment fall as quickly?
It seems possible. According to the Associated Press, at least one New York company ousted an accused harasser recently. Defy Media, a digital media company, just fired the creator of its online series “Honest Trailers.” Several women had complained that the man had sexually harassed or attempted to assault them.
The company says an investigation began in August and turned up “egregious and intolerable behavior.”
It’s somewhat unusual to see two alleged perpetrators of sexual misconduct fired so quickly after public exposure and with virtually no attempt at defense by their companies. If taking quick, decisive action actually holds down total settlements, it could easily become a trend.
We encourage all victims of sexual harassment or misconduct in the workplace to step forward. “The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes,” said Streep.