As if this ordeal couldn’t get any more depressing, TMZ got their hands on Harvey Weinstein’s 2015 contract with The Weinstein Company, and it contains a clause that literally says that sexual assault is OK with the Company, so long as Weinstein covered the costs. Per TMZ:
TMZ is privy to Weinstein’s 2015 employment contract, which says if he gets sued for sexual harassment or any other “misconduct” that results in a settlement or judgment against TWC, all Weinstein has to do is pay what the company’s out, along with a fine, and he’s in the clear.
According to the contract, if Weinstein “treated someone improperly in violation of the company’s Code of Conduct,” he must reimburse TWC for settlements or judgments. Additionally, “You [Weinstein] will pay the company liquidated damages of $250,000 for the first such instance, $500,000 for the second such instance, $750,000 for the third such instance, and $1,000,000 for each additional instance.”
The contract says as long as Weinstein pays, it constitutes a “cure” for the misconduct and no further action can be taken. Translation — Weinstein could be sued over and over and as long as he wrote a check, he keeps his job.
It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to see that Harvey Weinstein is far from the only man who behaves like this—and if it was so vital to his state of being that it necessitated a specific clause in his contract, then you have to wonder how many other powerful men in Hollywood have a provision like this in their deal. Emma Thompson told the BBC that Weinstein is definitely not alone.
It feels like Hollywood is at the beginning of their own endemic Catholic Church-style scandal. Harvey Weinstein is one of the Kingmakers in that town, and his sexual harassment was so widely accepted that it necessitated a specific clause in his contract. The list of movie stars beholden to Weinstein is basically the same list as all the Oscar nominees since he arrived in Hollywood, and it’s impossible for all of them to have been in the dark about his crimes.
Which obviously begs the next question: how much did stars like Ben Affleck know, and did they also do stuff like this? If one of the most powerful men in Hollywood literally had a hall pass for sexual assault written into his contract, then you can bet that plenty of men in this perverted industry followed his lead. Hollywood spent a lot of their time this past decade lecturing the rest of the country on rape culture, and that is beginning to look more and more like an exercise in psychological projection than a sincere attempt to rid the country of our enduring crisis of sexual assault.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.