In a disturbing and incriminating audio recording taken during a sting operation by the New York Police Department in 2015, one of Hollywood's most influential and powerful producers, Harvey Weinstein, is captured on tape admitting to groping Filipina-Italian actress Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, whom he tries repeatedly to convince to come into his hotel room while he showers. As Gutierrez resists, Weinstein uses several tactics, including suggesting that she could be hurting herself professionally by refusing to do as he instructs.
The tape was published by The New Yorker on Tuesday in yet another bombshell piece about the massively influential director who Meryl Streep once described as "a god" in the industry, and who has exerted his influence in the political realm as a "prolific fund-raiser for Democratic Party candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton." Among the allegations leveled at Weinstein thus far are four accusations of sexual harassment, including Weinstein masturbating in front of the victims, and three accusations of rape, including "forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex."
In the bone-chilling audio captured by the NYPD, Weinstein is caught trying to convince Gutierrez against her repeated protestations to come back with him to his hotel room. In the audio, Gutierrez accuses the producer of having groped her breasts a few days before — which is why she approached the NYPD with sexual assault allegations. Weinstein shrugs off his actions, saying he's "used to" that kind of behavior. Weinstein insists that all he wants her to do is to be in the room as he showers and swears on his children that he will not try to do anything to else to Gutierrez. After stressing how important he is in the industry, he says suggestively, "Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes."
In the piece for The New Yorker, Ronan Farrow describes his conversations with some of the victims, all of whom, he says, "were frightened of retaliation." In the case of Gutierrez, Farrow points out, Weinstein appears to have gotten his revenge:
"If Harvey were to discover my identity, I’m worried that he could ruin my life," one former employee told me. Many said that they had seen Weinstein’s associates confront and intimidate those who crossed him, and feared that they would be similarly targeted. Four actresses, including Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette, told me they suspected that, after they rejected Weinstein’s advances or complained about them to company representatives, Weinstein had them removed from projects or dissuaded people from hiring them. Multiple sources said that Weinstein frequently bragged about planting items in media outlets about those who spoke against him; these sources feared that they might be similarly targeted. Several pointed to Gutierrez’s case, in 2015: after she went to the police, negative items discussing her sexual history and impugning her credibility began rapidly appearing in New York gossip pages.
The fallout from the initial investigative piece by The New York Times published on Thursday has been swift and wide-reaching. Weinstein was fired by the company he co-founded on Sunday, and insiders say The Weinstein Co. will soon rid itself entirely of his name. Several of the companies board members have resigned and Weinstein has lost some of his legal advisors. Industry leaders, celebrities, and the media have all begun to turn on Weinstein, despite years of what appears to be a concerted effort by many to cover for the powerful producer, a hypocrisy that is not going unnoticed by the public.
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