Harvey Weinstein to take a leave of absence amid sexual harassment claims, threatens lawsuit over report

Harvey Weinstein, the pioneering independent film executive, will take a leave of absence from his namesake studio after a news report detailed decades of sexual harassment accusations against him.

The article, published by the New York Times on Thursday, said that Weinstein has over the years reached at least eight legal settlements with women over alleged harassment.

The allegations were levied by actresses including Ashley Judd as well as former employees of Weinstein Co. and the executive’s previous company, Miramax.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Weinstein, 65, reiterated some comments he made to the New York Times, apologizing for behavior “with colleagues in the past [that] has caused a lot of pain” and said he would take a leave to deal with his issues “head on.”

Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. Each denied wrongdoing.

Several women allegedly harassed by Weinstein described to the New York Times incidents in which the executive is claimed to have sought massages — or given unsolicited ones. These women, described as Hollywood hopefuls, told the newspaper that Weinstein was naked during some of the encounters. The report also cited a settlement with actress Rose McGowan over an incident in a hotel room.

Lena Dunham, the creator and star of “Girls,” wrote on Twitter that the entertainment industry, long known for spotlighting scandals such as those involving the Catholic Church, should train its spotlight on what it has “condoned” within the business.

With Weinstein’s impending leave of absence, his company finds itself in uncharted territory.

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