A former assistant to Harvey Weinstein publicly accused the disgraced Hollywood mogul on Monday of trying to rape her in 1998 when the two were working together.
Rowena Chiu, a onetime Miramax employee, told her story on the “Today” show on Monday morning. Chiu alleged that Weinstein had sexually assaulted her in 1998 when they were working together in a hotel room in Venice, Italy. She said she was silenced by a strict non-disclosure agreement that she’d been pressured to sign in order to work with Weinstein.
“It’s very typical of working with Harvey that generally personal questions and requests, massage and so on, are blended in with conversations about scripts and appropriate workplace questions. So this wasn’t something that happened that took place over this one night,” Chiu said, sitting alongside actor and fellow Weinstein accuser Ashley Judd.
“But it took place over a number of evenings while I was in the hotel working with him,” she continued. “And these kind of requests escalate. Harvey is very persistent. He has a tendency to cajole, and frankly, on this particular evening, he’s a very big guy, he pushed me back against the bed, and I was petrified and terrified as he tried to rape me.” (Watch a clip of the interview below or the full interview at the top of this article.)
Chiu’s story first appeared in journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor’s upcoming book, “She Said,” which tracks the reporting that led up to the Me Too reckoning in the fall of 2017. “She Said” hits stores this week.
In the book, Chiu describes struggling with depression and a suicide attempt in the 20 years since the assault. She told “Today” that she decided to break the non-disclosure agreement now because she simply hadn’t been ready to speak up about her experience earlier.
“The NDA asked us to keep a secret about something that happened to me while I was working for 20 years, and that in itself was a very difficult thing to do,” she said. ”…When this story broke in the press about two years ago, I wasn’t ready. … I felt intimidated. I felt terrified. I didn’t know what the repercussions would be both legally and personally, and so it really has taken all of two years to square some of those things away both in terms of my own personal life, in terms of coming forward and speaking to my parents, speaking to my husband, speaking to my closest friends.”
Around 70 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to sexual assault and rape. He has previously denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex. His spokesperson did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on this latest accusation.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.
REAL LIFE. REAL NEWS. REAL VOICES.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.