The mountain of litigation stemming from allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Harvey Weinstein continues to grow. On Wednesday, six women filed a proposed class-action lawsuit in federal court in New York against the disgraced film producer and his former companies, claiming that the system that exposed them to harassment from Weinstein was akin to organized crime.
“Harvey Weinstein is a predator. Bob (Weinstein) knew it. The board knew it. The lawyers knew it. The private investigators knew it. Hollywood knew it. We knew it. Now the world knows it,” the plaintiffs said in a joint statement. The six plaintiffs are: Louisette Geiss, Katherine Kendall, Zoe Brock, Sarah Ann Masse, Melissa Sagemiller, and Nannette Klatt.
“We have watched with horror, amazement, pride and gratitude in the last two months as women (and men) the world over have come forward and named their abusers. We stand with all those brave people who have had the courage and temerity to shine a spotlight into the darkness. Predators thrive in the shadows. It is only by keeping their secrets for them that we allow them to get away with it,” the statement said.
The suit, handled by Hagens Berman and Armenta Law Firm, aims to expand as a class-action proceeding with potentially “hundreds” of other Weinstein victims, the firms said in a statement.
According to the suit, “Weinstein’s widespread sexual misconduct did not occur without the help of others,” the suit states. “Rather, over time, Weinstein enlisted the aid of other firms and individuals to facilitate and conceal his pattern of unwanted sexual conduct. This coalition of firms and individuals became part of the growing ‘Weinstein Sexual Enterprise,’ a RICO enterprise.”
The 14 counts in the suit include witness tampering, mail and wire fraud, assault, civil battery, negligent supervision and retention and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial.
Also named as defendants are the Weinstein brothers’ former company, Miramax, and current and former board members of Weinstein Co.