Harvey Weinstein once trapped a woman in the hallway of a restaurant that was closed to the public and masturbated in front of her until he ejaculated, she says.The accusation comes a day after Weinstein was the subject of a bombshell New York Times report that revealed that he has settled at least eight sexual harassment claims.
The incident took place a decade ago, according to Lauren Sivan, who at the time was a news anchor on a local cable channel in New York, Long Island 12. She says the experience left her shocked, and that while she told friends privately what happened, she remained quiet because she was in a long-term relationship and fearful of the power that Weinstein wielded in the media.
Sivan told HuffPost about the incident with Weinstein in an on-record interview. A list of detailed questions was emailed to a Weinstein Company publicist. While the publicist acknowledged receiving the questions, multiple attempts to get a response were unsuccessful. In a text message, Lisa Bloom, Weinstein’s attorney, said Weinstein was not available for an interview.
The night of the incident started with Sivan meeting Weinstein and others at Cipriani, a well-known Italian restaurant in Manhattan. She later rode with him and others to Socialista, a Cuban-themed club and restaurant in which Weinstein and Giuseppe Cipriani, who was then the head of the Cipriani restaurant empire, were investors. Sivan noted to HuffPost that Weinstein’s car was “stocked full of cases of Diet Coke,” which she said she found to be odd. In a 2001 profile of Weinstein in New York Magazine, journalist David Carr noted that while sitting at a table, Weinstein had “three Diet Cokes on standby in front of him.”
A spokeswoman for Cipriani confirmed that he and Weinstein have been friends for many years but declined to comment further.
HuffPost spoke to a friend of Sivan’s who was with her that night who corroborated details of Sivan’s story prior to and after the incident in the restaurant hallway, and shared additional details about that evening. Sivan’s friend spoke to HuffPost on the condition of anonymity because she wasn’t authorized by her employer to speak to members of the press about any topic.
Sivan recalled that, while at the club, Weinstein asked her to join him on a tour of its restaurant, Cafe Socialista. Sivan said she reluctantly agreed and they went downstairs to the restaurant. Just before Sivan left, the friend told her that if she wasn’t back in 10 minutes, she would come to check on her.
Once Sivan and Weinstein were downstairs they chatted and he showed her the cafe. He then took her to the kitchen (the restaurant was closed by that time), where a couple of staffers were cleaning up. The quiet in the kitchen struck Silvan as odd, but a story published in 2008 said that Cafe Socialista was closing down for a lack of business (while the club was to remain open), possibly explaining why the kitchen wasn’t as populated.
Weinstein then dismissed the two staffers in the kitchen. According to multiple women who spoke to HuffPost on the condition of anonymity who said they had similar experiences with Weinstein, he has started out meetings or interactions with other people in the room and then dismissed them to be alone with women in order to make advances.
Once they left, Sivan says Weinstein leaned in and tried to kiss her. Sivan rejected that attempt and told him she had a long-term boyfriend. Weinstein then said to Sivan, “Well, can you just stand there and shut up.”
At this point, Weinstein and Sivan were in a vestibule between the kitchen and bathrooms. The only way for Sivan to get away from Weinstein required her to get past him and go through the kitchen. Sivan says she was trapped by Weinstein’s body and was intimidated.
Weinstein then proceeded to expose himself to Sivan and began to masturbate. Sivan said she was deeply shocked by Weinstein’s behavior and was frozen and didn’t know what to do or say. The incident in the vestibule didn’t last long. Sivan says Weinstein ejaculated quickly into a potted plant that was in the vestibule and then proceeded to zip up his pants and they walked back into the kitchen.
By the time this occurred, Sivan’s friend had grown concerned by how long Sivan was gone.
The friend began to go downstairs but was stopped by a security guard who told her she was not allowed. She says that she explained the 10-minute limit she gave to Sivan and said, “Do you mean to tell me if she’s in trouble down there, you’re not going to let me in?” The security guard agreed to let the friend down to the cafe.
Once she got downstairs, she met Sivan and Weinstein who were leaving the kitchen.
Sivan and her friend left just after the encounter, and both of them recalled Sivan discussing what had happened as soon as they left Socialista.
Sivan said Weinstein called her office the next day while she was at work. Sivan says Weinstein told her that he “had a great time last night.” Weinstein mentioned that he was going on a foreign trip and asked if Sivan wanted to get together when he got back. Sivan reminded him that she was in a relationship and says she quickly ended the call. She has not interacted with Weinstein since the incident in 2007.
The Weinstein Company announced Friday that Weinstein was going on an indefinite leave pending investigation of the sexual harassment claims by an independent law firm.
Follow Yashar — or send him a tip — on Twitter: @yashar