Prosecutor sets up Hollywood sexual assault task force

PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles County district attorney on Thursday announced the establishment of a task force to investigate allegations of sexual assault in the entertainment industry.

It is a sign of the scope of the problem, which has been spotlighted by the flood of allegations of sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men in Hollywood that have emerged in recent weeks. "In response to the widespread allegations of sexual abuse in the entertainment industry, I have established a task force of specially trained deputy district attorneys who are ready to evaluate these cases," Jackie Lacey said.

"I have assigned the group of veteran sex crimes prosecutors to work together to ensure a uniformed approach to the legal review and possible prosecution of any case that meets both the legal and factual standards for criminal prosecution," Lacey said.

The New York Times and The New Yorker published articles on allegations that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein had a decades-long history of sexual harassment and rape, prompting scores more women to speak out about his behaviour and that of others in the entertainment industry.

Allegations have since emerged against "House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey, director James Toback, comedian Louis C.K. and others.

Here are the actresses who've accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, abuse

  • In part two of the New York Times' explosive expose chronicling decades of sexual harassment allegations waged against studio mogul Harvey Weinstein- several actresses went public with their stories for the first time.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow: "I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified," Paltrow said about her experience as a then 22-year-old on the set of 1996's Emma.
  • Anjelina Jolie recalled a similar incident. "I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did," Jolie said in an e-mail to the Times.
  • Italian film star Asia Argento, the 42-year-old daughter of iconic horror director Dario Argento, said Weinstein forced oral sex on her 20 years ago. She told the publication she had maintained her silence until now for fear that Weinstein would "crush" her.
  • Model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, a former Miss Italy finalist, told the New Yorker she met Weinstein March 2015 at a reception for a show he was producing in New York. She said Weinstein "lunged at her, groping her breasts and attempting to put a hand up her skirt" at a meeting in his offices in Tribeca.
  • French actress Judith Godreche met Weinstein for breakfast at a hotel in 1996. He later invited her up to his suite to see the "view". But he later asked for a massage and pressed himself against Godreche, even pulling off her sweater.
  • Rosanna Arquette: In the early 1990s, Weinstein asked the young actress to stop by a hotel in Beverly Hills to pick up a script. She remembers telling him "I'm not that girl," after he asked her for a massage.
  • Rose McGowan: The actress reportedly reached a US$100,000 settlement with Weinstein in 1997, after an "episode in a hotel room at the Sundance Film Festival".
  • Ashley Judd: The accused Weinstein of inviting her to his hotel room, appearing in a bathrobe, offering her a massage, and asking her if she wanted to watch him take a shower.
  • Former actress and screenwriter Louisette Geiss held a news conference where she alleged that her encounter with Weinstein took place at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. He invited her to his office for a meeting, and soon excused himself and returned naked, wearing only a bathrobe. He later asked that she watch him masturbate.
  • Mira Sorvino: The actress starred in several of Weinstein's films, told The New Yorker that he sexually harassed her and tried to pressure her into a physical relationship while they worked together.
  • British actress Romola Garai told The Guardian she felt "violated" following a meeting with Harvey Weinstein in his London hotel room when she was 18 in which he was in a bathrobe. Garai said that once she was in the room the two had a brief discussion about film but she felt "belittled" by his "abuse of power."
  • Model and actress Cara Delevingne accused Weinstein of propositioning her and attempting to kiss her after a meeting about an upcoming film. "He said to me that if I was gay or decided to be with a woman especially in public, that I'd never get the role of a straight woman or make it as an actress in Hollywood," Delevingne said in a statement.
  • French actress Lea Seydoux became the latest in a string of female Hollywood stars speaking out against Weinstein. Also subjected to his advances, she alleged "everyone" in Hollywood "knew what Harvey was up to".
  • In a revealing piece written for Variety, Heather Graham revealed that Weinstein asked her to have sex with him in exchange for being included in his movie in the early 2000s. He told Graham that he had an agreement with his wife in which he could sleep with whomever he wanted whenever he was out of town. "I walked out of the meeting feeling uneasy," Graham wrote.
  • Kate Winslet has revealed in an interview with Los Angeles times why she didn't thank the disgraced film producer in her 2009 Oscars speech. "That was deliberate. That was absolutely deliberate," Winslet said. "I remember being told. 'Make sure you thank Harvey if you win'. And I remember turning around and saying, 'No I won't. No I won't.' ... If people aren't well-behaved, why would I thank him?""
  • British actress Lysette Anthony said he had attacked her in her London home in the late '80s. Anthony said It happened after she had got to know the producer when she starred in the 1982 film Krull, according to The Telegraph.
  • Kate Beckinsale also came forward about Weinstein sexually harassing her when she was just 17 and hampering her career. She posted her statement to Instagram with a picture of her as a teenager and wrote that when she was called to meet him at the Savoy Hotel in London, Weinstein opened the door in a bathrobe. She left the room "uneasy but unscathed".
  • Actress Eva Green has said she felt "shocked and disgusted" after an encounter with Weinstein in which she allegedly had to "push him off" during a business meeting. The Bond girl gave her statement after her mother told a French radio that her daughter "was a victim of this horrible man".
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