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The ugly sexual assault allegations levelled at movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Film producer powerhouse Harvey Weinstein is taking a leave of absence after a New York Times report revealed he has been accused of a suite of sexual harassment allegations spanning 30 years.

On Thursday, The New York Times published an explosive report alleging the 65-year-old has, over decades, sexually harassed women in his industry.

Weinstein, who has won Academy and Tony Awards for films he has produced, is accused of sexually harassing numerous women in Hollywood – from his own employees to actresses – occasionally on the promise that their cooperation would come with a career boost.

They allege Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements – worth anywhere between US$80,000 to US$150,000 – with women who have accused him of sexual harassment over the course of nearly three decades.

Here is everything you need to know.

Who is Harvey Weinstein?

Weinstein is a 65-year-old film producer and one of the most powerful people in Hollywood.  Alongside his brother Bob Weinstein, he co-founded Miramax Films in the late 1970s, which began as a small independent film distribution company. By 1993, Disney offered the Weinsteins $80 million for ownership of Miramax and by 2005, they left, only start a new production company called The Weinstein Company (TWC).

He has had a hand in the sucess of films like Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, Shakespeare in Love, The Artist, The King’s Speech, Silver Linings Playbook and Lion.

Not only does Weinstein have money, he has enormous influence on the happenings of Hollywood, commissioning films and employing those putting everything on the line to crack into the industry.

Image: Getty.

He has five children across two marriages, with ages ranging from four to 24. In 2007, he married his current wife, English fashion designer and actress Georgina Chapman.

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What exactly does The New York Times allege?

The New York Times' report, investigated by journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, is extensive.

The piece begins with an interview with actress Ashley Judd, who alleges 20 years ago, the film producer organised to meet her at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what she thought was a business meeting. Instead, he invited her to his room where he wore only a bathrobe, asked if she would watch him shower and if she would like a "massage".

“I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask,” Judd told the Times. “It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining.

“Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.”

The report also discusses, in detail, a 2015 memo sent to TWC executives from an employee named Lauren O'Connor. O'Connor details the allegations of her former colleagues whose claims tell a familiar narrative of bathrobes, LA hotel rooms and propositioned massages and shower and bath viewings.

"I am a 28 year old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64 year old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10," she is quotes as saying in the memo.

"I am a professional and have tried to be professional. I am not treated that way however. I am sexualised and diminished."

O'Connor's memo was retracted soon after she and Weinstein reached a settlement.

The Times interviewed eight different women - who don't know each other - who told eerily similar stories of their dealings with Weinstein.

"The women, typically in their early or middle 20s and hoping to get a toehold in the film industry, said he could switch course quickly — meetings and clipboards one moment, intimate comments the next," Kantor and Twohey report.

Weinstein's history with women

Publicly, no. He is thought to have quite liberal views and values.

Last year, he hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in his New York home and, as reported by the Times, has employed Malia Obama as an intern. In 2015 - the same year O'Connor wrote her memo - TWC released The Hunting Ground, a documentary about campus sexual assault.

Image: Getty.
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He also claims to have spent the last year organising a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC.

However, a bully-like repuation has followed much of his success, with hush-hush consensus being the Weinstein brothers are difficult to work with.

“You know, for years I used to read about myself,” he once told New York magazine in an interview.

“They’d say, ‘He has a temper’ or ‘He’s a bully’ or something like that, and it always bothered me. You know, I always felt guilty about it. Somebody said, ‘The flower bill that is written by Harvey could have’ – you know what I mean – ‘because he needs so many apologies, could fund a small nation.’”

How has Weinstein responded?

In a statement to the New York Times, Weinstein hints that in part, he is a product of his generation.

"I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.

"I have since learned it's not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone. I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed. I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I'm trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment."

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After the piece went live, Weinstein's lawyer, Charles Harder, told The Hollywood Reporter he would be suing The New York Times.

"The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein. It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by nine different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women's organizations."

For context, Harder is the same lawyer Hulk Hogan hired in an invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker. That lawsuit essentially sunk Gawker.

Do you think Weinstein's excuse for his behaviour is sufficient?