The case against Harvey Weinstein on Thursday took on an international dimension, with police in New York and Britain launching investigations — while a fourth woman accused the movie mogul of rape.
An avalanche of claims of sexual harassment, assault and rape by the hugely influential Hollywood producer have surfaced since the publication last week of an explosive New York Times report alleging a history of abusive behavior dating back decades.
On Thursday, US actress Rose McGowan became the fourth woman to accuse Weinstein of raping her.
A spokesman for the New York Police Department confirmed that it was investigating a 2004 case, but provided no details.
The New York Daily News said that the case involved aspiring actress Lucia Evans, who earlier told the New Yorker magazine that Weinstein had forced her to perform oral sex on him.
A statement from Scotland Yard said London’s Metropolitan Police Service was investigating “an allegation of sexual assault by Merseyside Police.”
It did not elaborate.
The Daily Telegraph said the case involved an actress now reportedly living in the Liverpool area.
McGowan berated Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a blistering series of tweets on Thursday, claiming that she told Amazon Studios chief Roy Price that Weinstein had raped her, but was ignored.
“Over & over I said it. He said it hadn’t been proven. I said I was the proof,” she wrote.
Amazon Studios later said that Price — who has also been accused of sexual harassment by TV producer Isa Hackett — was “on leave of absence effective immediately.”
On Wednesday, Weinstein was seen in public for the first time in days when paparazzi descended upon him as he left his daughter’s home in Los Angeles.
“Guys, I’m not doing OK, but I’m trying,” he said in a video obtained by ABC. “I got to get help. You know what, we all make mistakes.”
As he climbed into a sports utility vehicle, he said he hoped people would give him “a second chance.”
Web site TMZ reported that Weinstein later flew to Arizona to enter a rehabilitation center, possibly The Meadows, a facility northwest of Phoenix where golfer Tiger Woods and supermodel Kate Moss have been treated.
The allegations against a man who is a prominent supporter of liberal causes and a major US Democratic Party fundraiser sent tremors through the party, with conservatives accusing former US president Barack Obama and former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton of waiting too long to disavow Weinstein.
Obama eventually said he was “disgusted” and Clinton that she was “appalled” by the alleged acts.
The allegations against one of cinema’s titans — a man whose studio has garnered more than 300 Oscar nominations — have shaken Hollywood, which has long battled a reputation for exploiting female actors, bypassing female directors and overlooking female-centered scripts.
Weinstein’s accusers include bold-named actresses such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mira Sorvino, Kate Beckinsale and actor-singer Ashley Judd.
Two-time Academy Award-winning actress Jane Fonda on Thursday told the BBC’s Hardtalk program that she heard of the accusations against Weinstein a year ago — admitting she “should’ve been braver” in voicing the claims.
She added that she did not publicly speak out to protect his accusers’ privacy.
The catalogue of allegations ranges from verbal harassment and physical intimidation to forced sexual contact. Some of the lesser complaints can no longer be prosecuted due to statutes of limitation.
Along with McGowan and Evans, two other women have accused Weinstein of rape: Italian star Asia Argento and another woman who has remained anonymous.
In New York, there is no statute of limitations in rape cases.
Authorities there have not yet filed charges in the 2004 case, but are encouraging anyone with information to come forward, New York Police Department spokesman J. Peter Donald said.
California — responding to the slew of sexual assault allegations against comedian Bill Cosby — last year ended its statute of limitations for rape cases. However, the change was not retroactive, so most cases 10 years or older could not be prosecuted.
The parallels between Weinstein’s situation and that of Cosby are striking: several presumed victims have come forth in both cases, their complaints reach back decades and both powerful men reached secret settlements with some of their accusers to keep them quiet.
Weinstein, like Cosby before him, has insisted that all the sexual contacts that have emerged were consensual.
Through a spokeswoman, he has apologized for his behavior, but denied specific charges and threatened to sue the New York Times.
However, with the allegations pouring in, he was fired by the eponymous company he cofounded, and his wife, actress Georgina Chapman, said she plans to divorce him.
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