NY state sues Weinstein and Co. for failing to protect staff

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NEW YORK - New York state sued Harvey Weinstein, his brother and their production company on Monday for failing to protect employees from years of his alleged sexual misconduct despite multiple complaints from staff.

The lawsuit comes four months after the Hollywood mogul's career ended over allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape now leveled by more than 100 women spanning 40 years.

State prosecutors said the suit, the result of an ongoing investigation, was filed out of fear that an imminent sale of The Weinstein Company, now on the verge of bankruptcy, could leave victims without adequate redress. The lawsuit now threatens to delay the sale.

Weinstein's lawyer poured cold water on the lawsuit and presented his 65-year-old client as a supporter of women's career advancement.

But state prosecutors accuse the company's board and executives of repeatedly failing to take adequate steps to protect staff or curb Weinstein's behavior, despite multiple complaints to human resources.

The twice-married father of five is being investigated by British and US police, but has not yet been charged with any crime. He denies having non-consensual sex and is reportedly in treatment for sex addiction.

The suit alleges that female assistants were required to facilitate Weinstein's sex life as a condition of employment and had copies of a manual, known as a "Bible," that included directions on how to do so.

Prosecutors said Weinstein made verbal threats to "kill" several staff or their families, and touted his connection to political figures and alleged Secret Service contacts that could "take care of problems."

They said one employee flew from London to New York to teach his assistants "how to dress and smell more attractive" to Weinstein.

The New York state attorney's office said that despite multiple complaints to the human resources department, there was no meaningful investigation or relief for victims, or consequences for Weinstein.

It said the company's toxic work environment was shrouded in secrecy because of a practice of reaching non-disclosure agreements - a policy that has come under renewed scrutiny in the wake of the sexual harassment watershed that has followed Weinstein's downfall. - AFP


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