New York state sues Weinstein Company over sexual harassment

New York prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein's company for failing to protect female staff from Weinstein

New York prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company, alleging that the studio failed to protect staff from Weinstein.

The film producer is facing dozens of allegations of sexual abuse, including rape, but he denies non-consensual sex.

The New York lawsuit alleges Weinstein abused female employees and made verbal threat to kill staff members.

“The Weinstein Company repeatedly broke New York law by failing to protect its employees from pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation, and discrimination,” said Eric Schneiderman, the state’s top prosecutor, on Sunday.

Following a four-month investigation into TWC, the complaint alleges “a years-long gender-based hostile work environment, a pattern of quid pro quo sexual harassment, and routine misuse of corporate resources for unlawful ends” dating back to 2005, the year Weinstein founded the company with his brother Bob, who is also named in the suit.

The lawsuit also accuses senior executives at the company, including Robert Weinstein, of failing to prevent the mistreatment of staff despite being presented with evidence.

A lawyer for Weinstein said a "fair investigation" would show that many of the allegations were without merit.

The Weinstein Company has been pursuing a sale for sometime, after battling bankruptcy. Now the suit casts doubt over the sale. Any sale of The Weinstein Company must ensure that victims will be compensated, employees will be protected .

The company reportedly had begun exclusive negotiations with Contreras-Sweet, but Schneiderman’s lawsuit put those talks on hold, Reuters reported.

Schneiderman said on Sunday that while his office’s investigation was continuing, he had decided to file the lawsuit in part due to reports of the “imminent” sale of the company.

“Any sale of The Weinstein Company must ensure that victims will be compensated, employees will be protected going forward, and that neither perpetrators nor enablers will be unjustly enriched,” he said.

In a statement, Ben Brafman, attorney for Mr Weinstein, said: “We believe that a fair investigation by Schneiderman will demonstrate that many of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein are without merit. While Weinstein’s behaviour was not without fault, there certainly was no criminality, and at the end of the inquiry it will be clear that Harvey Weinstein promoted more women to key executive positions than any other industry leader and there was zero discrimination at either Miramax or TWC.”

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