Harvey Weinstein fired back at a blistering lawsuit from the New York attorney general on Sunday, arguing that he has become a “scapegoat” for Hollywood’s treatment of women.
In a statement, Weinstein’s attorney Ben Brafman contends that a “fair investigation” by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman “will demonstrate that many of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein are without merit.”
The attorney general accused Weinstein, his brother Bob Weinstein, and the Weinstein Co. of systemically discriminating against female employees by subjecting them to an atmosphere of sexual harassment and abuse. The suit alleges that the company had the opportunity to stop Weinstein’s behavior, and repeatedly failed to do so.
“While Mr. Weinstein’s behavior 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,” Brafman said in the statement.
“If the purpose of the inquiry is to encourage reform throughout the film industry, Mr. Weinstein will embrace the investigation,” Brafman continued. “If the purpose however is to scapegoat Mr. Weinstein, he will vigorously defend himself.”
The L.A. County district attorney’s office is reviewing five investigations forwarded by the LAPD and the Beverly Hills Police Department for possible charges. Weinstein also faces criminal probes in London and New York.
The Schneiderman suit seeks to impose conditions on the sale of the Weinstein Co., including requiring an independent monitor to oversee the company’s handling of sexual harassment complaints, and the release of Weinstein Co. employees from non-disclosure agreements.
The suit has raised doubts about whether the $500 million sale, to a group backed by investor Ron Burkle, will be completed.