Content warning: This article discusses allegations of sexual assault

In a turn of events that could only be described as baffling, lawyers for Harvey Weinstein have denied that he ever offered acting jobs in exchange for sex, after the disgraced movie mogul was quoted as saying exactly those words in a recent article.

Last month, Weinstein sat down with Spectator columnist Panagiotis ‘Taki’ Theodoracopulos, ostensibly to discuss the sexual assault allegations against him. The resulting piece was published yesterday, including a quote in which the producer told his friend:

“You were born rich and privileged and you were handsome. I was born poor, ugly, Jewish and had to fight all my life to get somewhere. You got lotsa girls, no girl looked at me until I made it big in Hollywood. Yes, I did offer them acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so did and still does everyone. But I never, ever forced myself on a single woman.”

Weinstein’s lawyer Ben Branfan presumably hit the ceiling when the piece appeared, and mere hours later, he had issued a strongly-worded denial, telling the Hollywood Reporter that his client never made such an admission. He said:

“I was present for the conversation; it was not an interview, but a social meeting between old friends. Harvey and Taki did not discuss the case, nor would I allow him to. They talked about old Hollywood and the contrast to European culture, and I think Taki sees Harvey in that older light. Mr. Weinstein never said anything about trading movie roles for sexual favors. You have my word that Harvey did not say that.”

Taki, who originally billed the piece as a “world exclusive”, has since done a complete about-face, saying that his meeting with Weinstien was actually just a “social visit.” In a retraction published earlier today, he said he made a “mistake” and may have “misrepresented ” what was said on the day:

“After 41 years as a Spectator columnist without a single retraction, I believe that I may have misrepresented Harvey Weinstein’s conversation with me in New York last month. It was my mistake. We were discussing Hollywood and I may have misunderstood certain things about the methods of that place. I had nothing to do with the headline of my article and I hope I have not damaged his case. It was, after all, a social visit.”

It bears mentioning again that these two men are old mates, and the piece is very slanted in his favour, with Taki going as far as to say that he “[has] doubts about women who come out of the woodworks years later, or return for more after allegedly being raped by Weinstein.”

In May of this year, Weinstein was charged with “rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two separate women” by New York police. He was taken into custody but released after posting a million dollars’ bail.

On Monday of this week, he pleaded not guilty to three new charges including “predatory sexual assault and a criminal sexual act.” Speaking of the earlier charges, Brafman said that his client “vigorously denies” the allegations against him.

Source: Vanity Fair
Image: Getty Images / Jefferson Siegel