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Harvey Weinstein allegedly hired intelligence agencies to help stop sexual assault accusations against him from being published, according to a new report from Ronan Farrow. Weinstein has called the new claims "fiction."
Per the exposé published in The New Yorker, the disgraced Hollywood producer allegedly hired private security agencies, among them Black Cube, to use their operatives to seek out information about his accusers.
"It is a fiction to suggest that any individuals were targeted or suppressed at any time," Weinstein's spokesperson told The New Yorker.
Since Farrow's earlier New Yorker piece and Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey's New York Times report last month, many Hollywood actresses have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, assault and rape, among them Rose McGowan. In response to those allegations, Weinstein's spokesperson said, "Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein."
However, according to Farrow's most recent report, Weinstein used the investigators to collect information to help prevent such allegations from being published. In an additional statement to The New Yorker, Weinstein's spokesperson said there were "many inaccuracies and wild conspiracy theories promoted in this article."
Among the alleged tactics was a private investigator that, using the false identity "Diana Filip," reached out to McGowan claiming she worked for a wealth management firm and was launching a project to prevent female discrimination at work.
Claiming she wanted to hire McGowan to speak at an upcoming gala, the two met and continued a correspondence. However, according to Farrow's sources, "Filip" had been an alias for an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces and was working as a Black Cube agent. According to the report, when Farrow showed the actress a photo of the agent, she recognized her as "Filip." Farrow said he was also contacted via email by Filip a week after McGowan mentioned that she had spoken to him for his piece, but he did not respond. Her cell phone numbers have been disconnected and her alleged company's website has been taken down, per the report.
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
"Why didn't I, @rosemcgowan, @RoArquette @AnnabellSciorra spoke up earlier? We were followed by ex-Mossad agents. Isn't that terrifying? Very," Asia Argento tweeted after Farrow's report was published.
However, the investigators did not allegedly only target actresses for information on their claims, but also journalists exploring their stories. In addition to Farrow, New York reporter Ben Wallace said he was also contacted by and met with the same woman, except she had posed as a woman named Anna with an allegation against Weinstein. According to Farrow's sources, the woman had also emailed Kantor.
In a statement to E! News, Black Cube said, "It is Black Cube's policy to never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company's work. Black Cube supports the work of many leading law firms around the world, especially in the US, gathering evidence for complex legal processes, involving commercial disputes, among them uncovering negative campaigns...It should be highlighted that Black Cube applies high moral standards to its work, and operates in full compliance with the law of any jurisdiction in which it operates—strictly following the guidance and legal opinions provided by leading law firms from around the world."
According to Farrow's report, the contract with the firm also specified that all of its work would be obtained "by legal means and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations."
According to the report, David Boies, who served as one of Weinstein's attorneys and whose firm was representing the New York Times, confirmed to Farrow that his firm contracted and paid two of the agencies. However, he said he "did not select the firms or direct the investigators' work." "We should not have been contracting with and paying investigators that we did not select and direct," he told Farrow. "At the time, it seemed a reasonable accommodation for a client, but it was not thought through, and that was my mistake. It was a mistake at the time."
He told Farrow that he advised Weinstein "that the story could not be stopped by threats or influence and that the only way the story could be stopped was by convincing the Times that there was no rape...If evidence could be uncovered to convince the Times the charges should not be published, I did not believe, and do not believe, that that would be averse to the Times' interest."
Boies further explained his actions in a statement, writing, "I was told at the time that the purposes of hiring the private investigators were to ascertain exactly what the actress was accusing Mr. Weinstein of having done, and when, and to try to find facts that would prove the charge to be false and thereby stop the story. I did not (nor did the firm) select the investigators (at least one of which had been used by Mr. Weinstein previously) or direct their work; that was done by Mr. Weinstein and his other counsel."
As he continued, "Had I known at the time that this contract would have been used for the services that I now understand it was used for, I would never have signed it or been associated in any way with this effort. I have devoted much of my professional career to helping give voice to people who would otherwise not be heard and to protecting the rights of women and others subjection to oppression. I would never knowingly participate in an effort to intimidate or silence women or anyone else, including the conduct described in the New Yorker article. That is not who I am."
Additionally, per the article, Weinstein allegedly "enlisted" journalists like Dylan Howard, chief content officer of The National Enquirer's publisher, American Media Inc., to get information against his accusers. Howard reportedly shared with Weinstein information one of his reporters got from a call with Elizabeth Avellan, who had been married to Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez previously had a relationship with McGowan. As Avellan told Farrow, the reporter allegedly "pressed" her for unflattering comments about the actress, recorded the conversation and then Howard allegedly told Weinstein about it.
In response to the report, Howard, who also formerly oversaw a television-production agreement with Weinstein, told The New Yorker in a statement, "Absent a corporate decision to terminate the agreement with The Weinstein Company, I had an obligation to protect AMI's interests by seeking out—but not publishing—truthful information about people who Mr. Weinstein insisted were making false claims against him. To the extent I provided ‘off the record' information to Mr. Weinstein about one of his accusers—at a time when Mr. Weinstein was denying any harassment of any woman—it was information which I would never have allowed AMI to publish on the internet or in its magazines."
"I always separated those two roles carefully and completely—and resisted Mr. Weinstein's repeated efforts to have AMI titles publish favorable stories about him or negative articles about his accusers," he added in the statement.
Weinstein's spokesperson added to the outlet, "In regard to Mr. Howard, he has served as the point person for American Media's long-standing business relationship with The Weinstein Company. Earlier this year, Mr. Weinstein gave Mr. Howard a news tip that Mr. Howard agreed might make a good story. Mr. Howard pursued the tip and followed up with Mr. Weinstein as a courtesy, but declined to publish any story."
Per the report, firms compiled photos of the producer with his accusers and thorough profiles of the women and the journalists reporting their stories, including personal details that could potentially discredit them.
Additionally, Weinstein allegedly used former employees, Pamela Lubell and Denise Doyle Chambers, to make lists of colleagues the investigators could use to determine if there were more accusers. Doyle Chambers declined an interview request from Farrow, but Lubell told him that she had been pitching Weinstein an app when he asked her to write a book about Miramax, his production company.
For the book, he allegedly asked her to make a list of employees and contact them. However, he later apparently said they were putting a hold on the book, but wanted her and Chambers to call people on the list to see if they had been contacted by the press. In early September, he allegedly asked them to call people connected to actresses. "We didn't know these people, and all of a sudden this was something very different from what we signed up for," she told Farrow.
"Any 'lists' that were prepared included names of former employees and others who were relevant to the research and preparation of a book about Miramax," Weinstein's spokesperson told The New Yorker. "Former employees conducting interviews for the book reported receiving unwanted contacts from the media."
In a tweet issued early Tuesday, hours after Farrow's report was published, McGowan wrote, "Here is my official statement: CHECK MOTHERF--KING MATE PIGFACE."
Read the full New Yorker article here.