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Hollywood mogul Weinstein apologises after sex harassment claims
[LOS ANGELES] Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein issued an apology on Thursday and announced he was taking leave after the New York Times published a bombshell report accusing him of sexual harassment over several decades.
"I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologise for it," the movie mogul said in a statement to the Times after its damning story was published.
Weinstein added that he had hired therapists and planned to take a leave of absence "to deal with this issue head on."
Lisa Bloom, one of Weinstein's lawyers who specialises in sexual harassment cases, separately said in a statement that her client "denies many of the accusations as patently false."
According to the Times, Weinstein's allegedly inappropriate behavior goes back nearly three decades and he has reached private settlements with at least eight women.
His accusers, the Times said, include celebrities such as actress Ashley Judd, who recalled being invited to Weinstein's suite at a posh Beverly Hills hotel two decades ago expecting a breakfast meeting to discuss business.
Instead, the actress said, Weinstein appeared in a bathrobe and asked if she could give him a massage or watch him shower.
Two former assistants and an Italian model made similar accusations and allegedly reached settlements.
One of the assistants was allegedly badgered by Weinstein into giving him a massage while he was naked, leaving her "crying and very distraught" in the words of a colleague, Lauren O'Connor, the Times said.
Ms O'Connor said Weinstein, who co-founded Miramax and is co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, had created "a toxic environment for women" at his firm.
Weinstein is considered a powerhouse in Hollywood and many of his movies have picked up Oscars over the years, including Good Will Hunting and The Artist.