Harvey Weinstein allegations include lurid Sundance encounter in Park City
Police Department says it never received a report about the Hollywood bigwig
In January of 2008, as Park City was in the throes of the Sundance Film Festival, Harvey Weinstein greeted an actress and screenwriter named Louisette Geiss.
He invited her to the premiere of one of his films showing at the festival, “Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden.” He asked her afterward about a film she wrote and was marketing during Sundance, and they agreed to meet again at a restaurant in the hotel where they were staying, according to an account Geiss detailed this week amid mounting sexual-harassment claims against Weinstein, first chronicled by The New York Times. An important figure in the rise of the independent-film industry, Weinstein was a regular Sundance attendee and was oftentimes spotted in public in Park City.
The emergence of the account by Geiss is believed to be the first public claim against Weinstein stemming from his visits to Park City during the festival. Her attorney, Gloria Allred, released the two-page statement.
Geiss said in the statement Weinstein wanted to continue talking in an office that was next to his hotel room. She said she hesitated since she had “heard stories about Harvey’s behavior with women.”
“Nevertheless, there was a hotel security camera above us and I said to him, I will take this meeting with you if you promise not to touch me and I made him shake my hand in front of the camera,” the statement said, adding that the two talked about his film and the one she was marketing.
She said Weinstein excused himself to go to the bathroom after they had been talking for 30 minutes.
“He returned in a robe with the front open, buck-naked. He told me to keep talking about my film and that he was going to get into his hot tub which was in the room adjacent to his office, steps away. I kept talking as he got into the hot tub. When I finished my pitch, he asked me to watch him (touch himself),” Geiss said.
She told him she was leaving and he got out of the hot tub, grabbed her forearm and pulled her toward the bathroom as he asked her to watch again, Geiss said, describing that she was scared.
“I pulled my arm away and headed for the door. Harvey followed me telling me he could introduce me to his brother, Bob, and that I could be in three movies and that he could help me with my movie if I would just watch him . . . I was on the verge of tears but I pulled it together and quickly exited his room,” she said.
Geiss said if she spoke publicly at the time “no one would choose my truth over his story.”
The Park City Police Department said this week it has not received a report involving Weinstein as a suspect. Rick Ryan, a police captain, said the department has had “no negative dealings with him.” Ryan said he has seen Weinstein at a variety of events and briefly greeted him. Weinstein has “just been as polite and courteous as can be, at least to me,” Ryan said.
Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez also said his agency has not had issues with Weinstein.
Weinstein’s former company, Miramax, was influential in the independent-film industry that Sundance has also had an important role in nurturing. Miramax’s lineup of Sundance films, according to the studio, includes “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “Clerks,” and “Garden State.”
Dozens of women have come forward since the claims were chronicled by The New York Times.
The Sundance Institute released a prepared statement regarding Weinstein.
“The Sundance Institute and Film Festival denounce, in the strongest possible terms, the behavior of Harvey Weinstein as described by the growing number of women who have bravely come forward. The accusations are abhorrent and profoundly disturbing. We recognize that too often a pattern of abuse like this one thrives in the shadows, and we stand in solidarity with the courageous women whose honesty has helped shine a light on it,” the statement said.
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