Published Feb 22, 2018Harvey Weinstein has invoked the words of a handful of famous actresses in his defence against a federal sexual misconduct class-action lawsuit.
The disgraced movie mogul's lawyers appeared in federal court in New York on Tuesday (February 20), claiming that the suit should be dismissed due to how long ago the alleged assaults took place and the lack of supporting facts.
In their official court filing, Weinstein's lawyers quoted Meryl Streep as saying that Weinstein had treated her respectfully throughout their working relationship.
Streep has since fired back, saying that her statement was misused and that Weinstein insinuating that it held true for his accusers is "pathetic and exploitative."
"The criminal actions he is accused of conducting on the bodies of these women are his responsibility," Streep said [via the Associated Press]. "And if there is any justice left in the system he will pay for them."
Weinstein's lawyers attempted to further disprove the accusations by calling the veracity of the complaints into question. They cited Gwyneth Paltrow as an example, pointing out that she had worked with Weinstein on Shakespeare in Love in 1998, despite accusations of sexual harassment on the set of Emma in 1994.
The court filing reads: "Paltrow was not so offended that she refused to work with Weinstein again, nor did her career suffer as a result of her rebuffing his alleged advances."
In her initial allegations, Paltrow said, "I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified."
She went on to reveal that she had confided in her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt about Weinstein's advances, and that when Pitt warned the producer to leave her alone, Weinstein "screamed at me for a long time."
Weinstein's latest court filing goes on to name Jennifer Lawrence, as well, who worked with Weinstein on 2013's Silver Linings Playbook. The filing cites Lawrence telling Oprah Winfrey that she had known the producer since she was 20 years old and "he had only ever been nice to me."
Following the deluge of accusations against Weinstein last fall, Lawrence publicly stood with the women accusing him of sexual misconduct. "My heart goes out to all of the women affected by these gross actions," she said at the time. "And I want to thank them for their bravery to come forward."
UPDATE (2/22, 2:39 p.m. EST): Lawrence has since responded to being named in the court documents. "Harvey Weinstein and his company are continuing to do what they have always done which is to take things out of context and use them for their own benefit," she told CNN. "This is what predators do, and it must stop."
Attorney Elizabeth Fegan, who filed the class-action suit against Weinstein on behalf of six actresses, has responded to the new court filing.
"If Weinstein thinks he will win by twisting women's words against them, he fails to understand the law on sexual assault and the depravity of his own conduct," she told the Associated Press.
The Weinstein Company has also sought to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that it was unaware of Weinstein's conduct and that he is responsible for his own actions.
To date, more than 75 women have spoken to media outlets about alleged sexual harassment or assault by Weinstein. There are currently investigations ongoing in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, New York and London.