Attorney Gloria Allred has promised that she’s going to continue pursuing justice for victims of sexual harassment.
Allred made the pledge Tuesday night at SAG-AFTRA’s national headquarters during a panel on sexual harassment and abuse, a few hours after filing a lawsuit against disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein in which an unnamed actress alleged Weinstein raped her at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. last year. The actress, identified in the suit only as Jane Doe, claims Weinstein also masturbated in front of her without her consent during an earlier meeting at the same hotel.
The lawyer, who has represented several Weinstein accusers, including Heather Kerr, Louisette Geiss, and Mimi Haleyi, said the suit “won’t be the last.”
Allred explained to an audience of about 200 SAG-AFTRA members at the James Cagney room that accusers do not have to go public in order to to file such lawsuits.
“You can be a Jane Doe,” Allred added. “She’s not identified; she will not be speaking out publicly.”
Weinstein, through his reps, has denied the allegations in the suit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and also named The Weinstein Co. as a defendant. Weinstein was fired a month ago by TWC following the Oct. 5 bombshell report in the New York Times, which alleged he had settled eight harassment suits including those filed by Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan.
For her part, Allred revealed Tuesday that she has reached “thousands” of confidentiality settlements in such cases.
“The press hates confidentiality settlements,” she said. “They don’t know about the thousands that I’ve made. I will never comment on whether there has been a settlement — my lips are sealed. I can say we need to do a lot more to empower victims.”
The event, titled “Beyond the Headlines: A Conversation on Sexual Harassment and Abuse in the Entertainment Industry,” opened with SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris thanking the “courageous” women members who have spoken out.
“This is a critically important time for us to have this conversation,” Carteris added. “It’s not just a Hollywood situation. It’s systemic throughout our culture. This is the first of many conversations. And it’s responsibility of all of us to step forward and take care of each other. By working together, we can absolutely change our culture.”
SAG-AFTRA blasted Weinstein on Oct. 9, calling his behavior “abhorrent and unacceptable.”
Other panelists included director Niki Caro, assistant director-producer Liz Tan, actress Lisa Vidal, and casting director Debra Zane.
Vidal recalled fleeing a situation when she was 19 when a producer asked her to go to an apartment so he could meet his realtor. When they arrived, the room had no furnishings except a mattress.
“I learned to open my mouth and give off a vibe of ‘don’t bark up this tree because you don’t want to know.'” she said. “I wanted to do this panel because of how important it is not to move around in fear.”
Zane said, “Treat people the way you want to be treated. We need to respect people in a non-hierarchical way. What’s going on is an abuse of power by those who can create jobs or give them. That must stop.”