While Harvey Weinstein‘s legal team has been relatively quiet in the four months since a slew of harrowing allegations of sexual assault and harassment were made against him, on Wednesday it was reported that Weinstein is trying to use the words of actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep for his own defense.
A class action lawsuit by six women against the Hollywood producer and his former businesses has been met with an unsettling response from Weinstein’s legal team. His attorneys are attempting to use comments made by prominent actresses, as well as their success, to poke holes in the complainant’s claims.
Documents obtained by E! News show quoted comments from Streep and Lawrence, which are used to argue that the ‘class definitions’ are “fatally overbroad,” and therefore, the allegations should be “dismissed or stricken in their entirety”.
That is that as a ‘class’, not all actresses were victims of Weinstein’s behaviour.
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“As drafted, [the proposed class definitions] would include all women who ever met with Weinstein, regardless of whether they claimed to have suffered any identifiable harm as a result of that meeting,” one document states.
“Such women would include, presumably, Jennifer Lawrence, who told Oprah Winfrey she had known Weinstein since she was 20 years old and said ‘he had only ever been nice to me,’…and Meryl Streep, who stated publicly that Weinstein had always been respectful to her in their working relationship.”
In an interview in December 2017 for The Hollywood Reporter, Lawrence told Oprah Winfrey, “Just speaking for myself, I had known him since I was 20, and he had only ever been nice to me—except for the moments that he wasn’t, and then I called him an a–hole, and we moved on. He was paternal to me.”
Days after the initial allegations against Weinstein, in October 2017, Streep released a statement that said, “One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew. Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally.”
The 65-year-old’s legal team also cite the success of Gwyneth Paltrow to dispute claims that the women who allege Weinstein harrassed them were genuinely “under duress”.
One memo contains a footnote stating, “For example, Gwyneth Paltrow was allegedly harassed during the filming of Emma in 1994, which allegedly caused her to fear the prospect of being fired. Yet, Paltrow went on to star in another Weinstein production—Shakespeare in Love— for which she won an Academy Award in 1998.”
“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 response to these documents, Streep released the following statement to E! News:
“Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys’ use of my (true) statement—that he was not sexually transgressive or physically abusive in our business relationship- as evidence that he was not abusive with many OTHER women is pathetic and exploitive.”
“The criminal actions he is accused of conducting on the bodies of these women are his responsibility, and if there is any justice left in the system he will pay for them – regardless of how many good movies, made by many good people, Harvey was lucky enough to have acquired or financed.”
Jennifer Lawrence and Gwyneth Paltrow have not yet provided a public statement.