Weinstein Co. employees: 'We did not know'

A group of Weinstein Co. staffers responded to sexual harassment and assault allegations against their company’s disgraced co-founder Harvey Weinstein on Thursday, saying they did not know he was a “serial sexual predator.”

The statement, signed by unnamed “select members of the Weinstein Company staff,” was sent to the New Yorker, which first published accusations that Weinstein had committed sexual assault and rape.

“We all knew that we were working for a man with an infamous temper. We did not know we were working for a serial sexual predator,” the staffers said. “We knew that our boss could be manipulative. We did not know that he used his power to systematically assault and silence women.”

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The letter comes two weeks after the New York Times published a story detailing decades of alleged sexual harassment by Weinstein, who was fired from his own company Oct. 8. He was expelled from the film academy last week and resigned from New York-based Weinstein Co.’s board of directors on Tuesday.

As the allegations of misconduct continue to mount, questions about how much Weinstein Co. staff knew about their boss’s behavior have swirled around the company. The board of directors, including Harvey Weinstein’s brother, Bob, have faced questions about how much they knew and whether they did enough to protect people who came into Harvey Weinstein’s orbit. Bob Weinstein has publicly denounced his brother and said he was not aware of his alleged predatory ways.

For their part, the staffers who drafted the memo to the New Yorker said they have “nothing to hide,” and blasted nondisclosure agreements in their contracts that some have blamed for helping to keep allegations under wraps for years.

“We have nothing to hide, and are as angry and baffled as you are at how Harvey’s behavior could continue for so long,” they said. “We ask that the company let us out of our NDAs immediately — and do the same for all former Weinstein Company employees — so we may speak openly, and get to the origins of what happened here, and how.”

None of the staffers were named in the statement, but the New Yorker said the letter had the support of about 30 Weinstein employees.

The statement comes amid a growing number of criminal probes against Harvey Weinstein in New York, London and now Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times on Thursday reported that an Italian model-actress met with Los Angeles police detectives for more than two hours, providing an account of new allegations that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2013. Los Angeles police Capt. Billy Hayes confirmed Thursday that the LAPD has launched an investigation into the matter.

The Weinstein Co. employees’ statement called on the entertainment industry to root out other predators working in Hollywood. Amazon Studios head Roy Price resigned this week following harassment allegations. Nickelodeon has suspended Chris Savino, creator of the animated show “Loud House” following sexual harassment allegations against him.

“Harvey Weinstein is far from the only sociopathic bully we’ve exalted over the years,” the Weinstein Co. employees said. “Employees who work under our industry’s most notorious bosses are regularly asked to surrender their dignity in exchange for professional success.”

A representative for Weinstein could not be immediately reached for comment. Weinstein has denied having nonconsensual sex with any of his accusers.

ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

@rfaughnder

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