'I'm trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go' - Oscar-winner's apology after claims of sex assault
Harvey Weinstein, the larger-than-life Hollywood executive and Oscar-winner, has apologised and is taking leave of absence from his own company after an explosive exposé revealed decades of sexual harassment against women.
"I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologise for it," Weinstein said in a statement. "Though I'm trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go."
His statement did not address any specific incidents.
The article in 'The New York Times' included first-person accounts of Weinstein's alleged conduct, including from actress Ashley Judd.
She recounted an incident from two decades ago in which she said she was asked to meet Weinstein in his hotel room. Weinstein greeted her wearing a bathrobe and asked her if she would give him a massage or watch him shower, the paper reported.
"Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it's simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly," Judd told the newspaper.
Two unnamed company officials claimed that at least eight women have received settlements from Weinstein over the years, including actress Rose McGowan, who allegedly had an incident with him in 1997 when she was 23.
Other stories include similar accounts of Weinstein coercing young women into giving him massages, while naked, or watching him shower, and promising career advancement in return. These incidents were all said to have happened in hotel rooms.
Weinstein's attorney Charles J Harder said in a statement that the story is "saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein."
"We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish," Harder said. He did not respond to questions about what specific allegations Weinstein was contesting.
"We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting," said a spokesperson for 'The New York Times'.
"Mr. Weinstein was aware and able to respond to specific allegations in our story before publication. In fact, we published his response in full."
There was no response to requests for comment from The Weinstein Co and Ashley Judd .
Weinstein (65) had a powerful perch in Hollywood for three decades, and was known for producing films like "Pulp Fiction" and "Shakespeare in Love," for which he won an Oscar.
He has also launched the careers of numerous actresses and directors and executed extremely successful Oscar campaigns with his company Miramax, which he ran with his brother Bob Weinstein.
He was also executive producer on five best picture winners, including 'The English Patient', 'Chicago', 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King', 'The King's Speech', and 'The Artist'.