Harvey Weinstein lawyer resigns in wake of criticism

Hollywood mogul is alleged to have harassed women over several decades

Harvey Weinstein: The New York  Times claimed he had reached settlements with at least eight women, including actors and assistants. Photograph:  Yann Coatsaliou/AFP/Getty Images

Harvey Weinstein: The New York Times claimed he had reached settlements with at least eight women, including actors and assistants. Photograph: Yann Coatsaliou/AFP/Getty Images

 

The attorney Lisa Bloom has resigned her role as an adviser to the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, after facing criticism for defending a man accused of repeated sexual harassment.

Weinstein is alleged to have harassed multiple women over several decades. Bloom, a high-profile women’s rights lawyer who has taken on Bill O’Reilly , Bill Cosby, Donald Trump and other powerful men accused of sexual misconduct, raised eyebrows with her decision to represent him. On Saturday she announced she was stepping down, one day after new accusations surfaced. Bloom had been assisting Weinstein in his response to a bombshell report in the New York Times . Published on Thursday, the report said Weinstein, one of the most powerful figures in the film industry, known for award-winning films including Good Will Hunting and Pulp Fiction, faced allegations of unwanted physical contact and sexual harassment stretching over nearly three decades. According to allegations in the Times report, the producer invited women to his hotel room for business purposes, greeting them in the nude or asking them to massage him or watch him shower.

Eight women

The Times said Weinstein reached settlements with at least eight women, including actors and assistants. In an initial statement, Weinstein, who has not faced criminal charges, apologised for the “pain” he had caused and announced a leave of absence from his company. He and his attorneys, however, have said he denies “many” of the allegations, none of which have been independently confirmed by the Guardian. Bloom, who is the daughter of the famous women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, released a statement after the Times article was published.

Calling Weinstein an “old dinosaur learning new ways”, she said: “I have been blunt with Harvey and he has listened to me.” She said Weinstein “is not going to demean or attack any of the women making accusations against him, although he does dispute many of the allegations”. Charles Harder, another attorney representing Weinstein, said he planned to file suit against the Times, alleging that the story was “saturated with false and defamatory statements” and relied “on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report”. The Times has stood by its reporting.

Harassment claims

Bloom helped force O’Reilly out of Fox News over harassment allegations and has recently represented other alleged victims of sexual misconduct, including celebrities Blac Chyna and Mischa Barton. Her mother criticised her decision to represent Weinstein. “Had I been asked by Mr Weinstein to represent him, I would have declined, because I do not represent individuals accused of sex harassment,” Allred said, according to the Wrap. “I would consider representing anyone who accused Mr Weinstein of sexual harassment, even if it meant that my daughter was the opposing counsel.”

Bloom’s short resignation statement, issued on Twitter, did not elaborate on her decision, but said: “My understanding is that Mr Weinstein and his board are moving toward an agreement.”

Weinstein’s film and television company has hired a law firm to investigate the allegations. Bloom, who announced in April that Weinstein was producing a series based on a book she wrote, previously defended her advisory position by saying the alleged behaviour was “gross” but that she “found Harvey to be refreshingly candid and receptive to my message”. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

– Guardian Service