Zelda Perkins, Harvey Weinstein’s former assistant, has been lauded on social media for finally revealing how she was silenced after making sexual harassment allegations against her boss.
On Tuesday, Perkins spoke to the BBC’s "Newsnight" show, alleging that Weinstein attempted to rape her former colleague 19 years ago.
Weinstein has denied the rape claims against him. Police in the US and the UK are currently investigating various allegations against the producer, but no charges have been brought so far.
"We were at the Venice Film Festival and he tried to rape her," Perkins told the BBC Two programme. "She was shaking, very distressed, and clearly in shock," she said. "She didn't want anybody to know and was absolutely terrified of the consequences. I spoke with her and tried to calm her down before confronting Harvey face to face."
She said Weinstein denied the attempted rape, "swearing on the life of his wife and his children, which was his best get-out-of-jail card that he used quite a lot."
Perkins said she signed a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) in 1998, which prevented her from speaking to anybody about the alleged rape incident and received 125,000 pounds from Miramax as part of the settlement.
Many on social media have praised her for finally breaking the NDA, saying it was courageous and inspiring behavior.
V powerful interview with Zelda Perkins, Harvey Weinstein’s former PA, on @BBCNewsnight — need to make it criminal offence to enter non disclosure agreement which itself covers up criminal offence— Norman Lamb (@normanlamb) 20 декабря 2017 г.
Watch #ZeldaPerkins interview on #Newsnight showing the world why Weinstein kept getting away with it, despite her best efforts. Massive respect to her and utterly nil respect to the System which disallowed justice and protected a powerful criminal.— Claudie Whitaker (@claudiewhitakr) 19 декабря 2017 г.
My God. This Zelda Perkins interview on #newsnight. Anyone still in doubt about how monsters like Harvey Weinstein destroy women's lives, should really watch this.— Stacey Bowman (@StaceBoop) 19 декабря 2017 г.
Really impressed by Zelda Perkins. I've signed a confidentiality agreement but no sex involved — still v uncomfortable. Zelda stepped in to protect a weaker colleague from sex abuse & only got involved in a monetary agreement due to lack of alternatives. Superbly brave.— Aunty Janet #FBPE (@scarlettpeach) 19 декабря 2017 г.
Major respect, Zelda Perkins. That was a strong, dignified interview. What you did was a huge achievement for a young woman. #newsnight— Diana Muir (@dianammuir) 19 декабря 2017 г.
Others, however, assumed that it was unacceptable to keep the incident secret and that she should have report it to the police.
The only obligation she had was as soon as she knew what he’d done she goes to the police not book a fecking therapy session & demand a big pay off she keep her mouth shut!😤— RaeK (@RaeKVPA) 19 декабря 2017 г.
Some even assumed that the whole situation was about money.
Run out of money now have we Zelda?— Atul (@ghatispeaks) 20 декабря 2017 г.
Really? Insightful as to how money talks. If I saw a friend distraught after rape I’d go to the police.— Nicola Cousins (@Nico81) 19 декабря 2017 г.
Both Perkins and her colleague subsequently resigned. Perkins expected a criminal proceeding against Weinstein, but "the lawyers made it very clear that we didn't have very many options." She added that they did not have physical evidence to provide to the police, so "it would be two young women's words against Harvey Weinstein."
Commenting on the NDA, she said, "The last 19 years have been distressing, where I've not been allowed to speak, where I've not been allowed to be myself."
"It's not just distressing for me, but for lots of women who have not been able to own their past, and for many of them, their trauma. Although the process I went through was legal, it was immoral."
Speaking about Weinstein’s personality, the former assistant assumed that an obsession with power was at the very core of his sexual misbehavior.
"I don’t think he’s a sex addict. He’s a power addict," Perkins said. "Everything that drove him was about dominance with men and women. He put an enormous amount of energy into humiliating men and an enormous amount of energy into getting women to submit. That was what drove him: his overarching need for power."
Weinstein, who has denied some, but not all of the sexual allegations against him, is currently being investigated by police around the world, including in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, New York and London.
Since the first allegations emerged, the sexual harassment scandal has been snowballing, reaching a number of prominent Hollywood persons, including actors Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman and beyond the movie industry to entertainment, media and politics.