Harvey Weinstein allegations open floodgates for harassment stories

Claims of sexual harassment against renowned Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein are opening a larger discussion about the workplace misconduct women can experience when dealing with men in powerful positions.

Another accuser speaks, movie mogul's legal adviser resigns as debate about workplace conduct reopens

The recent harassment claims against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein have renewed a larger discussion about the unjust and familiar treatment of women in the workplace by men in positions of power. (Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

What began as a New York Times investigative report into harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein has spiralled into further accusations and a larger debate about misuse of power in the workplace.

An L.A. journalist is the latest woman accusing the renowned film producer of sexual misconduct. Lauren Sivan told the Huffington Post that Weinstein cornered her at a restaurant a decade ago — when she was a local reporter in New York — exposing himself and masturbating in front of her.

The film executive, known for churning out Oscar-winning films such as Shakespeare in LoveThe King's Speech and The Artistis on "indefinite leave" from the Weinstein Company pending an internal investigation.

Weinstein released a statement on Thursday saying, "I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it." His legal team has said the initial New York Times story was "saturated with false and defamatory statements," but they provided no details.

Television reporter Lauren Sivan is the latest woman to come forward about an unwanted encounter with Weinstein, which she says took place a decade ago. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

The fallout has prompted U.S. morning show TV host Mika Brzezinski to say she "can't go forward" with a lucrative Weinstein book deal unless the mogul resigns.

And Weinstein's prominent legal adviser, Lisa Bloom, has resigned, announcing Saturday she's no longer helping him with his case despite initially rushing to his defence.

The claims against Hollywood's formerly revered honcho, who found widespread success with Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, and more recently, Lion, are also prompting women to speak out about their experiences with workplace harassment.

'We are not going to take that'

"That is an indicator to people in power that we are not going to take that, or we're starting to recognize it," Ontario-based writer Anne T. Donahue told CBC News.

Donahue put out a Twitter call for women to share their personal stories about being harassed on the job: "When did you meet YOUR Harvey Weinstein?" 

She received thousands of responses and retweets, including one from Oscar-winning Room actress Brie Larson. 

Documentary filmmaker and actress Jennifer Siebel Newsom wrote an article in the Huffington Post Friday about her own experiences with Weinstein, calling the initial New York Times report "extremely disturbing, but not all that shocking."

"I was naive, new to the industry, and didn't know how to deal with his aggressive advances ― work invitations with a friend late-night at The Toronto Film Festival, and later an invitation to meet with him about a role in the Peninsula Hotel, where staff were present and then all of a sudden disappeared like clockwork, leaving me alone with this extremely powerful and intimidating Hollywood legend."

Documentary filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom shared her own experience with Weinstein in a column for the Huffington Post. (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Weinstein's company has worked with many A-listers, from Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) to Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady). Both won Oscars for their Weinstein films. Streep even referred to him in a 2012 acceptance speech as "God."

During her 2012 Golden Globes acceptance speech for the Weinstein Company's The Iron Lady, Meryl Streep joked about Harvey Weinstein being 'God.' (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via Getty Images)

"For those asking why I waited?" Sivan tweeted Saturday. "YOU try telling that story 10yrs ago. Only possible now because of women with bigger names far braver than me."

Donahue praised the outpouring of personal stories.

Communication, sharing — that's a step because it takes away the stigma and the stigma is used to keep people down—  Anne T. Donahue, Canadian writer

"Communication, sharing — that's a step because it takes away the stigma and the stigma is used to keep people down," said Donahue.

Kathy Spillar, executive director of the U.S. Feminist Majority Foundation, told The Associated Press that strength in numbers could encourage more women to come forward in other cases. In addition to Weinstein, there have been high-profile allegations against Fox News's former host Bill O'Reilly and the late executive Roger Ailes as well as against Bill Cosby.

"Silence is the enemy of justice, and these powerful men know that," Spillar said. "I think this is going to start an avalanche, I really do. And we all know this behaviour is not limited to Cosby, Ailes, O'Reilly and Weinstein."

Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein accused of sexual harassment

5 years ago
Duration 3:45
Harvey Weinstein, one of Hollywood's most powerful figures, faces accusations of sexual harassment from actresses and former employees in bombshell exposé by the New York Times


Zulekha Nathoo

Digital/Broadcast reporter, L.A.

Zulekha Nathoo is a breaking news and entertainment reporter based in Los Angeles. From the Oscars to the Grammys, she's interviewed some of the biggest names in showbiz including Celine Dion and Denzel Washington. She also works on-air covering news events and spent more than a decade at CBC stations across Canada, including Toronto and Calgary. Follow her on Twitter/Instagram: @zulekhanathoo.

With files from CBC's Alice Hopton and Stephanie Vankampen and The Associated Press