19:49 GMT +309 December 2019
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    Harvey Weinstein arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

    Hollywood Mogul Harvey Weinstein Takes Leave of Absence Amid Harassment Claims

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    Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has responded to a recent report in The New York Times accusing him of sexual misconduct over a nearly 30 year span. Through his lawyers, he has denied many of the allegations and issued an apology.

    "I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go," the statement read.

    The New York Times reported Thursday that Weinstein, who is the co-founder of Miramax Films and Weinstein Company, has created a "toxic environment" in his companies, sexually harassing starlets and other female employees and promising career opportunities in return.

    The newspaper cited interviews with current and former employees and film industry workers as well as emails and documents from Weinstein’s companies. According to The Times, among the women affected were actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan.

    The newspaper also reported, citing company officials, that Weinstein has reached private settlements with at least eight women who have accused him of sexual harassment.

    Lawyers for Weinstein have denied many of the allegations and said that a lawsuit was being prepared.

    "[The story] relies on mostly hearsay and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee’s 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," lawyer Charles Harder was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

    Another lawyer, Lisa Bloom, said that Weinstein "denies many of the accusations as patently false."

    This is not the first high-profile sexual harassment scandal this year.

    Earlier this week, it was reported that Swiss police are investigating new rape allegations against Roman Polanski after a 61-year-old German woman filed a complaint alleging the Oscar-winning director sexually assaulted her in 1972. Polanski has been a fugitive from the US justice system since  1977 when he pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor in California.

    In July, Fox News channel chief Roger Ailes stepped down after a series of sexual harassment allegations were made against him. One of Fox News’ employees accused him of offering her career advances "in exchange for sexual favors."

    In April, Fox News also fired its longtime top host Bill O’Reilly after the New York Times revealed millions of dollars in settlements had been paid out to five women who had accused him of sexual harassment.

    In early 2017, sexual harassment allegations surfaced against Hollywood actor Casey Affleck, as two female colleagues he worked with in the past accused him of sexual misconduct. Affleck has repeatedly denied the accusations. Despite the consequent controversy, Affleck still won Best Actor at the 2017 Oscars.

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    Hollywood, sexual harassment, Harvey Weinstein, United States
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