STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) — One of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers has released video of an encounter showing his inappropriate behavior before he allegedly raped her.
The footage, given to by U.K.-based Sky News, shows a 2011 meeting in New York City in which Melissa Thompson, then 28 years old, is pitching her web video and analytics start-up to the Hollywood producer for the Weinstein Company. She recorded the encounter as part of the demo, which she told Sky she thought she was doing with the company’s marketing team.
Instead, the video shows Weinstein entering the room and saying, “Don’t interrupt,” to staff twice before locking the door behind him.
Weinstein then rejects Thompson’s offer of a handshake and hugs her, rubbing her back. “That’s nice, let’s keep it up,” Weinstein says. He then asks, “So, am I allowed to flirt with you?” to which Thompson replies, “Um, we’ll see, a little bit.”
Throughout the rest of the meeting, Weinstein sexually harasses Thompson, running his hand up her leg at one point.
“Data’s so hot, right?” Thompson says, cordially shoving Weinstein.
Weinstein responds, “It is hot. You’re hot.” He then runs his hand up her leg and under her dress. “Let me have a little part of you,” he insists. “Give it to me. It’s okay. Would you like to do it some more?”
Thompson appears visibly uncomfortable and begins to squirm, saying, “A little bit — a little high, that’s a little high, that’s a little high.”
When asked if she “might have encouraged him,” Thompson replied, “I don’t think I purposely encouraged him. At first, I tried to, you know, volley a little bit with him.
“If he would make a comment, I would try to catch it and return it in a way that felt a little safer than the way he threw it at me. Now I see he’s trying to, in any way he can, move into that zone of comfortable then uncomfortable, and confused and vulnerable, and recognizing that he’s powerful and I’m not, and that I needed this deal from him, and he has the power to give it to me.[…] I was trying to save face a bit. At first I was kind of trying to manage the situation. There was a combination of confidence and naivety that led me to this dynamic that we see now, watching back.”
Thompson went on to describe how she worked on Wall Street, a male-dominated arena. “I thought I could handle it. I had never met anyone that I couldn’t handle, until Harvey Weinstein,” she said.
In the video, Weinstein eventually agrees to use Thompson’s service. Thompson said he then invited her to another meeting at a Manhattan hotel restaurant later that day she believed would close the deal. When she arrived, Weinstein asked her to follow him to what she thought was a conference room. She ended up in Weinstein’s hotel room, where Weinstein raped her despite her attempts to get away, Thompson alleged. In June, she filed a lawsuit against Weinstein in which she claims he “out-muscled” her that day.
“We don’t have to live with being raped when we think we are going to a business meeting,” Thompson told Sky. “We don’t have to live with things that are illegal and abusive.”
Weinstein’s lawyer told Sky that when the video is viewed in context, “it demonstrates that there is nothing forceful, but casual, if not awkward, flirting from both parties.
“Anything short of that is intended to make Mr. Weinstein appear inappropriate, and even exploitative,” said Benjamin Brafman. “It was produced by Ms. Thompson to bolster her position in a civil lawsuit seeking money.”
Thompson is one of three women who filed a lawsuit against Weinstein in June. According to the lawsuit, she didn’t report the alleged incident to the police because she was afraid of her safety and her career.
The two other women in that specific lawsuit claim Weinstein battered and assaulted them in hotel rooms during incidents dating back to the nineties.
In June, Weinstein pleaded not guilty to rape charges brought by two other women. Thompson is among the more than 80 women who have accused Weinstein of sexual assault or rape.