Actor and activist Ashley Judd is at the center of a New York Times investigation of film producer Harvey Weinstein, which alleges decades of sexual harassment of numerous women by the movie mogul.
The story, published Thursday, starts with a two-decade old incident in which Judd, a University of Kentucky graduate, recounts meeting with Weinstein at what she thought was a breakfast meeting at his hotel.
Instead, Judd said, she was sent to his hotel room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked her to give him a massage, watch him shower and suggested other things. The incident took place at the time Judd was making the 1997 movie “Kiss the Girls,” and the Times says Judd’s mother, Naomi, confirmed to the paper that she was told about it shortly after it happened.
Judd says she remembered thinking, “How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?”
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Weinstein has been one of the most powerful producers and studio executives in Hollywood the last several decades, first co-founding Miramax and later The Weinstein Co. He won the 1999 Academy Award for best picture for “Shakespeare in Love” and as a studio executive has guided many other critically acclaimed and popular films including “Pulp Fiction” and “The English Patient.”
The Times story recounts numerous claims of harassment against Weinstein and quotes Judd as saying women have been talking about him privately for a long time, “and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.”
The Times story says Weinstein has reached settlements with at least eight women over accusations of sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact.
In a statement to the paper, Weinstein said he was working to change his behavior and planning a leave of absence to “deal with this issue head on.”
His lawyer Lisa Blooom said in a statement, “he denies many of the accusations as patently false.”
Rich Copley: @copiousnotes