A British former assistant of Harvey Weinstein claims she was paid £125,00 in hush money after being sexually harassed by the movie producer.
Zelda Perkins has spoken out about signing a non-disclosure agreement with the 65-year-old almost 20 years ago, in 1998, when she worked for him in Miramax’s London office.
Weinstein was fired from the company he founded with his brother just over a fortnight ago amid a sexual harassment scandal that has continued to escalate and now includes claims of rape, which he denies. Police in Los Angeles, New York and London are investigating Weinstein.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Perkins said Weinstein asked her to give him massages while he was in his underwear and tried to pull her into bed.
She further claimed she “was made to feel ashamed for disclosing his behaviour”.
Perkins reported her complaint after a female colleague told her she had also been harassed by Weinstein. The women were paid out £250,000, which they split, on the condition they signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Perkins told the FT she felt compelled to breach the agreement, which potentially could lead to her having to repay the settlement: “Unless somebody does this there won’t be a debate about how egregious these agreements are and the amount of duress that victims are put under.”
She continued: “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.”
Perkins claims are similar to those alleged by Gwyneth Paltrow and Lupita Nyong’o. Actress Rose McGowan earlier claimed that she reached a £84,000 settlement with Weinstein in 1997 after an alleged incident in a hotel room.
After claims of widespread harassment surfaced in the New York Times, Weinstein apologised for the way he has “behaved with colleagues in the past” and further acknowledged that his actions have “caused a lot of pain”. He lost his job at the Weinstein Co, days later.
The FT article detailed the scope of the agreement Perkins reached with Weinstein, which included instructions on how to deal with any criminal inquiries relating to mogul’s behaviour.
Perkins has been applauded for coming forward.