Film producer Harvey Weinstein steps down amid sexual harassment claims

Award-winning film producer Harvey Weinstein announced on Thursday he will take a leave of absence from his production company in the aftermath of a New York Times story outlining a series of sexual harassment
claims against him.

"I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different," the 65-year-old producer said in a statement following the article's publication. "That was the culture then. I have since learned it's not an excuse, in the office -- or out of it. To anyone.

"I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed," he said. "I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of
pain, and I sincerely apologize for it."

According to the New York Times story, Weinstein has reached at least eight legal settlements with women over allegations of sexual harassment, with his accusers including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan.

In his statement, Weinstein said he has been working with Woodland Hills-based civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom over the past year as part of his effort "to learn about myself and conquer my demons."

"I've brought on therapists and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head on," he said. "I so respect all women and regret what happened. I hope that my actions will speak louder than words and that one day we will all be able to earn their trust and sit down together with Lisa to learn more."

He said he is hoping for a second chance, "but I know I've got work to do to earn it."

"I have goals that are now priorities. Trust me, this isn't an overnight process. I've been trying to do this for 10 years and this is a wake-up call. I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt and I plan to do
right by all of them."

Weinstein, who won an Oscar as a co-producer of best-picture winner "Shakespeare in Love," noted that he began working a year ago to create a $5 million foundation to provide scholarships for women directors at USC.

"It will be named after my mom and I won't disappoint her," he said.

Bloom said she has had many conversations with Weinstein over the past year, and while he "denies many of the accusations as patently false," she explained to him that given his position of power, "some of his words and behaviors can be perceived as inappropriate, even intimidating."

"As a women's rights advocate, I have been blunt with Harvey and he has listened to me," Bloom said. "I have told him that times have changed, it is 2017 and he needs to evolve to a higher standard. I have found Harvey to be refreshingly candid and receptive to my message. He has acknowledged mistakes he has made. He is reading books and going to therapy. He is an old dinosaur learning new ways."

Harvey and his brother Bob Weinstein founded the Miramax film-production house in the late 1970's. The company produced hit films including "Pulp Fiction," "The Thin Blue Line," "Sex, Lies and Videotape," "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!," "The Crying Game" and "Clerks."

The brothers sold the company to Disney in 1993 but continued to run it until 2005, when they left to create The Weinstein Company. The studio's credits include "The King's Speech," "Silver Linings Playbook," "The
Butler" and "The Imitation Game."