New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Monday that it is “unacceptable” for the new owners of the Weinstein Co. to maintain the previous management team, including David Glasser, who was expected to be named CEO.
In a press conference in Lower Manhattan, Schneiderman discussed the extensive allegations of sexual misconduct and corporate enabling detailed in the lawsuit his office filed on Sunday.
“We have never seen anything as despicable as what we’ve seen right here,” Schneiderman said.
The attorney general’s lawsuit has thrown the pending sale of the company into doubt. A bid group backed by investor Ron Burkle and fronted by Maria Contreras-Sweet, the former head of the Small Business Administration, was expected to finalize terms on a $500 million acquisition on Sunday.
The investor group had promised to clean up the company by installing a female-majority board and putting in place a victims’ compensation fund. But in the press conference, Schneiderman argued that those promises were largely illusory.
“The CEO was supposed to be David Glasser — not a female last time I checked,” he said.
The lawsuit alleges that Glasser, as chief operating officer, had oversight of the human resources department at the Weinstein Co. The complaint alleges that numerous complaints of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein were not properly handled, and that accusers were vulnerable to retaliation because complaints were forwarded to Weinstein.
“The putting in charge of a newly configured company the same people who were involved in perpetuating for 12 years this pattern of misconduct, should be unacceptable to anyone who wants to reimagine the company,” Schneiderman said.
The attorney general’s office has sought to negotiate with the Contreras-Sweet group, but has not gotten very far. Schneiderman said that Contreras-Sweet’s lawyer called back and said, “Why should we talk with you?”
It remains to be seen whether Contreras-Sweet would be willing to dispense with Glasser, which seems to be close to non-negotiable for the attorney general. It’s also unclear if she would be able to change the terms of the deal to increase the amount allotted to victims of Weinstein’s abuse, which might be a greater sticking point.