A former assistant of Harvey Weinstein has come forward with more details of her sexual assault allegations against the disgraced film producer.
Rowena Chiu, who first shared her story on NBC’s “Today” last month, was hired to assist the Hollywood producer in London on his European productions at Miramax Films in 1998.
In a heartfelt op-ed for The New York Times, Chiu, who earned the position after graduating from Oxford, recalled being victimized by Weinstein during a late-night meeting at the Venice Film Festival later that year.
“After hours of fending off his chitchat, flattery, requests for massages and a bath, ultimately I found myself pushed back against the bed,” Chiu recalled.
“I’d worn two pairs of tights for protection, and tried to appease him by taking one of them off and letting him massage me, but it hadn’t worked. He’d taken off the other pair and I was terrified my underwear would be next. Harvey moved in: ‘Please,’ he told me, ‘just one thrust, and it will all be over.’”
Chiu claimed using multiple tactics to prevent Weinstein from pushing through — from suggesting that they return to the scripts to pointing out that she had a boyfriend. She eventually managed to “wriggle off the bed and leave” because “Harvey thought there would be another night to play the game and half the fun was the chase.”
Following the alleged attempted rape, she shared her experience with fellow assistant Zelda Perkins, who previously warned her that Weinstein had a reputation for inappropriate behavior. They repeatedly tried to report his actions to both superiors and police, but those attempts had only fallen on deaf ears, according to “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement,” a book by Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor published last month.
We have so much to share about the Weinstein investigation (and all that has happened since.) @mega2e and I would be overjoyed to see you at these events (tix & info here: https://t.co/JDU9xASywi and more in thread below…) pic.twitter.com/XiZ1nkg8Sg
— jodikantor (@jodikantor) August 21, 2019
Weinstein’s legal team eventually pressured the pair, allegedly, to sign 30-page non-disclosure agreements, which barred them from speaking out. Perkins broke her end of the agreement in 2017, while Chiu, who also received a settlement of £125,000 (over $200,000), revealed details of the document on Saturday’s op-ed.
“The negotiations were conducted under conditions of extreme duress: We were once kept at the office overnight, from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., escorted to the bathroom, provided with the barest minimum of food and drink and not permitted pen and paper to keep notes,” Chiu wrote.
“We were not even allowed to keep a copy of this most egregious of agreements: We had signed our lives away in a complex 30-page document that we could not refer to.”
Rowena Chiu, a former assistant to Harvey Weinstein, writes, “I was one of many ordinary, unfamous women trying to do their jobs who were abused by Harvey. What happened on that night would shape the rest of my life.” https://t.co/iCPQwoE89h
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 5, 2019
Chiu and Perkins subsequently maintained distance from each other. However, the incident would haunt them in the years that followed.
After leaving her post, Chiu was unable to find another job. She stayed for a position at Miramax in Hong Kong, which she believes Weinstein had “created to keep me in his orbit.”
Chiu attempted to end her life twice before quitting Miramax. She blamed herself for taking the job and not handling Harvey “‘robustly’ enough.”
“I lived in constant fear of Harvey’s abuse, control, and power; that the story would come back to haunt me; that I would inadvertently slip up on my promise to never speak of this,” she wrote.
“I suffered, completely isolated from those around me who could have provided the support I needed: a loved one, a trusted pastor, a respected therapist — even the man I would marry.”
Chiu remained silent as accusations against Weinstein unfolded during the #MeToo movement in 2017. It wasn’t until Christine Blasey Ford spoke out against Brett Kavanaugh last year when she finally found the courage to share her story.
On the same day of the attempted rape, Chiu claimed that Weinstein told her “he liked Chinese girls … because they were discreet” and “because they knew how to keep a secret.” She added that just before his act, the producer confessed that “he’d never had a Chinese girl.”
Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, denied Chiu and others’ allegations in “She Said” following the book’s publication last month.
“This book contains one-sided allegations without having adequately investigated the facts of each situation,” she said, claiming that Chiu and Weinstein actually had a consensual six-month “physical relationship,” according to the Associated Press.
Rotunno also said that Weinstein was “now studying taking legal action” against Chiu for breaking a non-disclosure agreement, though it is unclear if it is the same document Chiu was referring to.
Weinstein, 67, is scheduled to go on trial in January for five charges, including two counts of predatory sexual assault, a criminal sexual act, rape in the first degree and rape in the third degree, according to Vanity Fair.