The Harvey Weinstein scandal took a major Hollywood turn with a recent report claiming that the executive producer hired private security agencies to spy on his accusers and prevent their stories from reaching the media.
The New Yorker released the expose on 6 November (Monday), documenting how Weinstein used one of the world's largest corporate-intelligence companies, American-based Kroll along with Israeli firm Black Cube to prevent the allegations from being exposed.
Black Cube claims to use "highly experienced and trained in Israel's elite military and governmental intelligence units," and is made up in large part by ex-Mossad operatives and former members of other Israeli intelligence agencies.
Ronan Farrow, the reporter behind the original expose into Weinstein's sexual harassment history, told The Late Show's Stephen Colbert on 3 November that the New Yorker would be releasing another report "this machine that was so instrumental in keeping this quiet as long".
The expose details how two Black Cube private investigators met with Rose McGowan using false identities. Claiming to be a women's-rights advocate, the female operative secretly recorded conversations with the actress who alleged that the Hollywood boss had previously raped her. The same person used another alias when meeting a journalist to find out which women were talking to the press. She implied that she too had been a victim at the hands of Weinstein.
His spokesperson, however, has denied all claims. "It is a fiction to suggest that any individuals were targeted or suppressed at any time," Sallie Hofmeister said in a statement.
Weinstein's former lawyer had another story to tell. David Boies confessed that his firm has previously paid Black Cube and Kroll on their client's behalf. "We should not have been contracting with and paying investigators that we did not select and direct," he said.
Farrow also reported that the executive producer's employees were also roped in to keep track of actresses who had claims against him. Pamela Lubell a former Miramax producer described being "manipulated" to call up the women and frighten them into silence.
Even journalists were reportedly part of Weinstein's network used to squash stories of sexual assault. Dylan Howard, chief content officer of American Media Inc. which publishes the National Enquirer also oversaw a television-production agreement with the accused and revealed that he provided 'off the record' regarding one of the accusers.
The report by Farrow was released the same day the Television Academy decided to impose a lifetime ban on Weinstein. The organisation that bestows the Emmy Awards, voted to take the step following widespread allegations of sexual misconduct and rape by the producer.
The move follows the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and producers guild's decision to revoke Weinstein's membership.