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New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman said Monday that a pervasive pattern of sexual misconduct and corporate enabling at the Weinstein Company was some of the worst his office has investigated.
“We have never seen anything as despicable as what we’ve seen right here,” Schneiderman told reporters, a day after his office filed a 39-page complaint against the company, Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob. The suit is part of an effort to ensure adequate funds are put aside from the impending $500m sale of the company, and to ensure an end to the pattern of abuse.
“We have to ensure that this all cleaned up and that any deal that removes the two Weinstein brothers, but essentially leaves the rest of the management team intact, should be unacceptable to the purchasers,” Schneiderman said.
The complaint, bought by the civil rights division, alleges a pattern of systematic sexual coercion that involved company employees as both targets of sexual harassment or as complicit in it.
“It’s clear the company’s management was complicit in this pattern of misconduct,” Schneiderman said. “They knew what was happening. It was flagrant, it was flamboyant, they knew how pervasive it was and not only did they fail to stop it, they enabled it and covered it up.”
The lawsuit has thrown into jeopardy the pending sale of the company, to a group backed by investor Ron Burkle and fronted by Maria Contreras-Sweet, the former head of the Small Business Administration. It had been expected to agree to acquisition terms on Sunday.
Schniederman claimed the buyers were unwilling to meet with his office because of demands by the Weinstein company, and that they had failed to adequately provide for the victims. He also said there was no mention in the sale documents of a victims compensation fund, as had been agreed with the attorney general’s office.
He stressed it was “unacceptable” for the new owners to maintain the previous management team. Of particular focus was David Glasser, known within the company as “the third Weinstein”, who was expected to be named CEO.
The lawsuit alleges that Glasser, as chief operating officer, had oversight of the human resources department at the company.
Schneiderman said that, despite dozens of complaints of abuse and coercion, the company’s HR department had “not once launched a formal investigation into any of the complaints of discrimination, harassment and abuse”. He said that Harvey Weinstein’s personal filed had “gone missing”.
The attorney general insisted that any deal to buy the company must ensure victims are “adequately compensated”, that employees “be protected moving forward” and that executives involved in misconduct do not receive rewards.
Schneiderman said it would be “unacceptable” for a newly configured company to include “the same people who were involved in perpetuating for 12 years this pattern of misconduct”.
According to Variety, legal trouble has followed Glasser’s companies for years, including accusations by federal prosecutors that his former company, Cutting Edge Entertainment, was involved in a stock manipulation scheme and money laundering. Glasser was never charged, and told the magazine that he was unaware of any misconduct.
Investors proposing to buy the assets of the Weinstein company, which includes a catalog of 279 films and a building in New York’s Tribeca, had reportedly planned to install a female-majority board.
Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women – New York, told the Guardian that she believed the exposure of the depth of harassment and abuse at the Weinstein Company would be a turning point.
“What some of the employees were up against for refusing to be complicit in his behavior was truly shocking,” Ossorio said. “We think this could be the dawning of a new era in American business. Whether out of fear or enlightenment, just about everybody is reviewing their policies and thinking about how they do business.”
Schneiderman said he believed the potential purchasers of the firm would now take into account “the facts we have alleged and now understand they have more on their hands than they initially realized”.
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Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/news/weinstein-lawsuit-attorney-general-says-we-have-never-seen-anything-as-despicable/ar-BBJ3bU7