Former Harvey Weinstein assistant hits out at ‘immoral' gagging orders
A British former assistant to Harvey Weinstein, who alleged the disgraced movie mogul attempted to rape a colleague, has called for a change in the law on gagging orders.
Zelda Perkins, who worked for Miramax in London, broke a non-disclosure agreement earlier this year to accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment.
She said she signed the confidential agreement in 1998 when she was 24 and had shared a £250,000 payment with another woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
Ms Perkins described the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) process as “immoral” and told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that lawyers told her she “didn’t have a chance” of exposing his alleged behaviour.
She called for the UK law on NDAs to be reformed in order to stop the rich and powerful being able to cover up sexual assault and harassment.
“The last 19 years have been distressing, where I’ve not been allowed to speak, where I’ve not been allowed to be myself,” she told the BBC.
Ms Perkins said she had not been allowed to talk to a therapist about her time at Miramax or explain where she had received the money from to her accountant.
She said she had fought to get terms included in the NDA, such as a commitment for Weinstein to attend therapy.
“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.”
She quit Miramax after a colleague claimed the producer had tried to rape her during a work trip at the Venice Film Festival.
The co-worker came to her “extremely distressed”, Ms Perkins said.
Weinstein denied the claim of attempted rape and the women took legal action but were told by lawyers they did not have many options, she said.
“We had no physical evidence because we hadn’t gone to the police when we were abroad, and ultimately, it would be two young women’s words against Harvey Weinstein,” she told the BBC Two programme.
“In hindsight, my lawyers were giving me the advice they thought was best.
“However, they were saying, ‘You will get dragged backwards, forwards and sideways through the courts. As will your family, as will your friends, as will anybody who knows anything about you. You haven’t got a chance. You will be destroyed’.”
She added: “I understand that non-disclosure agreements have a place in society, and for both sides. But it’s really important that legislation is changed around how these agreements are regulated.”
Ms Perkins had previously broken her silence in an interview with the Financial Times in October when she accused Weinstein of repeatedly harassing her, starting when he allegedly asked her to massage him when in his underwear.
Weinstein, who denies allegations of non-consensual sex, has been accused of sexual harassment and abuse by dozens of women since a bombshell investigation published by The New York Times.