Ashley Judd and more women have accused high-powered studio mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexually harassing them, in multiple claims that stretch over three decades.
Judd talks about her alleged experience 20 years ago in a bombshell report published in The New York Times on Thursday, which claims Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women over sexual harassment claims from 1990 - 2015. Judd claims Weinstein invited her to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for a business breakfast meeting, and says she was surprised when he sent her up to his suite, where she claims he appeared in a bathrobe. She then alleges that despite her repeated rejections, he continuously requested intimate favors from her -- including a massage, a shoulder rub and, eventually, allegedly asking her if she would watch him take a shower.
"How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?" Judd says she remembers thinking. “I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask. It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining.”
To get out of the situation, Judd, who acknowledges that she appeared in two Weinstein films years later without incident, says she joked that if Weinstein wanted to touch her, she would have to win an Oscar first in one of his movies. She also says she felt "panicky" and "trapped" at the time.
“There’s a lot on the line, the cachet that came with Miramax," she says of their interaction, referring to the film studio Weinstein co-founded.
In a statement to ET, Weinstein's lawyer, Charles J. Harder, called the New York Times report "saturated with false and defamatory statements." He also said Weinstein and his team are planning to file a lawsuit, with any proceeds being donated to women's organizations.
"The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein," Harder said. "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."
High-powered attorney Lisa Bloom, who's been advising Weinstein over the past year, also said in a statement that “he denies many of the accusations as patently false.”
A New York Times spokesperson said the publication stands by its reporting on Thursday.
In an October 2015 interview with Variety, Judd recounted the same story of being sexually harassed by "one of our industry's most famous, admired-slash-reviled bosses" while filming Kiss the Girls in the late '90s, though declined to name names at the time. Judd also claimed during the Variety interview that her situation was not unlike several other actresses, whom she says have since swapped stories involving the mogul in question.
"The ultimate thing when I was weaseling out of everything else was, 'Will you watch me take a shower?' And all the other women, sitting around this table with me, said, 'Oh my God -- that's what he said to me too,'" Judd told the publication.
Weinstein apologized for his behavior with colleagues in the past in a lengthy statement on Thursday.
“I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it," Weinstein said. "Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
Weinstein also said that he was working with therapists and planning to take a leave of absence to “deal with this issue head on.”
A former employee at the Weinstein Company, who asked not to be identified, claims to ET that sexual harassment accusations against Weinstein is "nothing new," and says that no one at the company finds them shocking. The former employee also doesn't think anything will change at the company.
“I can’t imagine him resigning over this," the former employee says. “He exercised his right to behave however he wished, to whomever he wished. The company operated under his thumb in constant fear.”
Weinstein, 65, has six Best Picture Oscars, and is responsible for such massive hits as Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love, Good Will Hunting and Silver Linings Playbook. He has been married to Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman since 2007.