Harvey Weinstein: How sexual assault allegations shook Hollywood, America and the world

The company Harvey Weinstein helped to build into a Oscar-producing production house is exploring a potential sale or shutdown as sexual assault and rape allegations continue to rattle Hollywood, leading prominent friends and colleagues of the producer to denounce the famed producer.

After firing the disgraced producer, members of Weinstein Company’s board of directors began reportedly began talking to potential buyers as it tried to figure out how to proceed amid the mounting controversy. At the same time, a number of high-profile members of the Hollywood elite have publicly repudiated Mr Weinstein’s behaviour, including longtime friend and collaborator Quentin Tarantino, who broke his week-long silence Friday.

“For the last week, I’ve been stunned and heartbroken about the revelations that have come to light about my friend for 25 years Harvey Weinstein,” Mr Tarantino wrote in a statement released by friend Amber Tamblyn on Twitter Friday. “I need a few more days to process my pain, emotions, anger, and memory, and then I will speak publicly about it.”

Public accusations that Mr Weinstein sexually assaulted or harassed more than two dozen women sent a ripple through Hollywood and beyond roughly a week after a dramatic report detailed some of those claims, sparking an avalanche of backlash that continues to grow personally, professionally, and financially for the famed movie producer.

Mr Weinstein denies any sexual assaults and has said many other allegations are false.

Mr Tarantino, whose breakout film Reservoir Dogs was distributed by Mr Weinstein’s company in 1992, was one of several longtime collaborators who spoke up against the film executive who had played an important role in helping launch their careers. But, many of those figures faced criticism for allegedly looking the other way for years as the abuses continued, and for seeming to hesitate after the allegations surfaced.

Women took to social media to protest the culture of silence in Hollywood after actress Rose McGowan publicly accused Mr Weinstein of rape, and said that a studio executive had ignored her repeatedly when she said she’d been attacked. Ms McGowan had previously been banned from the site while discussing her allegations against Mr Weinstein, sparking outrage and accusations that the social media platform was censoring the accusations.

The news that the Weinstein Company is considering selling is the latest sign of the organization’s financial woes, which the sexual assault allegations exacerbated Although the board of directors at the production house voted to fire Mr Weinstein, financial firm Goldman Sachs indicated that it was reviewing their small stake in the company amid the allegations. If that decision turns into a trend, it could prove disastrous for the company, which has already struggled in recent years to produce consistent results.

The allegations first gained prominence last Thursday when the New York Times published an article alleging that Mr Weinstein had repeatedly sexually harassed or assaulted women, using his position of power and influence as a weapon.

Following that report, a report in the New Yorker dug deeper into the issue, bringing into print accusations of rape against Mr Weinstein, in addition to further accusations of sexual assault or harassment.

A recording obtained by that magazine from a sting operation conducted by the New York Police Department appeared show Mr Weinstein admitting on tape to groping Ambra Battilana, then a 22-year-old model from Italy, in 2004. That recording was taped by Battilana herself after she came to police with allegations that he had groped her.

But, even though prosecutors in that case had more evidence than generally necessary to convict someone of sexual assault, the charges were ultimately dropped after Mr Weinstein allegedly orchestrated a deluge of tabloid attacks on Battilana.

So far, 32 women have come forward with allegations of assault or harassment conducted by Mr Weinstein. That includes accounts of inappropriate sexual behaviour from actresses like Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Beckinsale.

Those allegations have the potential to lead to criminal prosecution as well. Police departments in New York and London have opened up investigations into the allegations, and are reportedly speaking to the accusers to determine if any of the alleged incidents occurred within their jurisdictions.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that has handed out 81 Oscars to films produced by Weinstein companies, has suspended Mr Weinstein’s membership in their organization, and plans on holding an emergency meeting to determine if any further actions are required to respond to the allegations.

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