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Harvey Weinstein sues his own company to extract crucial information for his defence

Disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein sued his former company on Thursday, seeking access to emails, his personnel file and other records he contends may exonerate him from multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

hollywood Updated: Oct 27, 2017 19:25 IST
Producer Harvey Weinstein speaks at the ceremony for the unveiling of the star for Italian composer Ennio Morricone on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood.
Producer Harvey Weinstein speaks at the ceremony for the unveiling of the star for Italian composer Ennio Morricone on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

Disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein sued his former company on Thursday, seeking access to emails, his personnel file and other records he contends may exonerate him from multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

Weinstein’s lawsuit filed Thursday in Delaware seeks access to the records, which Weinstein’s lawyers argue are key to the Oscar-winner’s defence from the avalanche of harassment claims made against him since an October 5 report by The New York Times. Weinstein was fired from The Weinstein Co. three days later. His lawsuit makes clear that if he is able to obtain the records, he may use them to pursue a wrongful termination case or other legal actions against the company.

The lawsuit notes the numerous legal troubles facing Weinstein and his former company, including criminal investigations, a civil lawsuit that alleges The Weinstein Co. knew of decades of harassment allegations lodged against the producer and a civil rights investigation launched by the New York attorney general.

“Mr Weinstein believes that his email account - which is the primary, if not only, account he used during the term of his employment by the company - will contain information exonerating him, and therefore the company, from claims that may be asserted against him or the company. Further, Mr Weinstein is in a unique position to offer insight, and further explain and contextualize his emails.”

Weinstein is asking a judge to expedite a ruling on his case.

A representative for The Weinstein Co. did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment.

The lawsuit came hours after actor Ashley Judd described on-camera Weinstein’s sexual advances toward her, which she said she escaped by making a deal.

She was a rising young actor two decades ago who had arrived at the hotel suite of this powerful film mogul for what she thought would be a business meeting.

It wasn’t, she said in her first on-camera recounting of the incident, which aired Thursday on Good Morning America. Judd’s account of the incident three weeks ago in The New York Times was a key factor in Weinstein’s downfall, and opened the door to an avalanche of harassment allegations against Weinstein and others and a broader cultural discussion of how women are treated in the workplace and beyond.

Writer and director James Toback, an Oscar-nominee for his Bugsy screenplay, has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than 200 women since a Los Angeles Times article broke the stories of 38 women Sunday. On Thursday, actors Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams told Vanity Fair about encounters with Toback early in their careers. Blair alleges that Toback humped her leg and implied that he would have her killed if she told anyone.

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has filed suit against the company he co-founded seeking access to his personnel file and email account as he battles sexual assault allegations. (AFP)

NBC suspended Mark Halperin on Thursday after CNN reported on the claims of five women who said the political journalist harassed them while he was an ABC News executive. Halperin, who co-authored the best-seller Game Change, apologised Wednesday for what he called inappropriate behaviour. And former Fox News host and best-selling author Bill O’Reilly, who was forced out of the network in April after sexual harassment allegations, saw his literary agency cut ties with him.

Fallout continues to Weinstein and the film production company he co-founded. The Lexus luxury vehicle brand said Thursday it was ending its partnership with The Weinstein Co., which included sponsorship and product placement in company’s Project Runway television show.

Weinstein has been fired from the company he co-founded with his brother and is now facing criminal investigations in London, New York and Los Angeles.

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