A former assistant of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has broken a non-disclosure agreement to speak out about the film mogul’s alleged sexual harassment.
Zelda Perkins, who worked for Weinstein at London’s Miramax office, told The Financial Times she shared a AU$421,000 payout with another woman who was also allegedly sexually harassed by the producer. She said they signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in 1998 that they would never go public with their stories.
For almost two decades, Perkins kept quiet about her experience working for the now 65-year-old.
But after hearing many other women come forward with their own allegations of abuse and harassment at Weinstein’s hands, Perkins is ready to go public.
"Unless somebody does this there won't be a debate about how egregious these [non-disclosure] agreements are and the amount of duress that victims are put under," she told The Financial Times.
"My entire world fell in because I thought the law was there to protect those who abided by it. I discovered that it had nothing to do with right and wrong and everything to do with money and power."
Analysis: Harvey Weinstein: how lawyers kept a lid on sexual harassment claims https://t.co/egipfIn7hUAdvertisement
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) October 23, 2017
Before signing the agreement, Perkins said she was subjected to days of gruelling questioning by lawyers, including a 12-hour straight session by Weinstein's lawyers that lasted until 5am. She was just 24 years old at the time.
"I was made to feel ashamed for disclosing his behaviour and assault, and expected to name those I had spoken to, as if they too were guilty of something," she said.
During her time working for Weinstein, Perkins said she noticed his need to "annihilate and humiliate men".
"But with women it was all about seduction and submission," she said.
"Harvey made you feel in an honorary position of trust and influence which he then used as a tool to exert control."
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Perkins said the alleged the harassment first started when Weinstein asked her to massage him while he was in his underwear.
When she declined, his alleged behaviour continued and escalated. She claimed Weinstein regularly walked around his room naked and asked her to be present while he took a bath.
"This was his behaviour on every occasion I was alone with him," she said.
"I often had to wake him up in the hotel in the mornings and he would try to pull me into bed."
Perkins finally sought help when a fellow colleague was also allegedly harassed by her boss. But she said her lawyers discouraged her from taking Weinstein to court, reportedly telling her he would "try to destroy me and my family" if she went public with her story.
The former assistant isn't the only person to break an NDA to go public with claims of abuse and harassment against Harvey Weinstein.
Earlier this month, actress Rose McGowan publicly named Weinstein as her alleged rapist for the first time. She is believed to have signed a legal agreement preventing her from doing so.
Weinstein, who denies allegations of non-consensual sex, has been accused of sexual harassment and abuse by dozens of women since a bombshell investigation published by The New York Times.
The 65-year-old is the subject of criminal investigations in the UK, Los Angeles and New York as well as a civil rights investigation in the US state.
To read the Financial Times' full interview, click here.