Harvey Weinstein may have maintained a particular interest in the show Project Runway to facilitate his access to models, whom he then allegedly sexually harassed and in some cases assaulted or attempted to assault, according to a new report over the weekend.
In a series of interviews with the Los Angeles Times, “nearly a dozen people with ties to the industry”—such as models and executives connected to Project Runway—told the newspaper how Weinstein “used fashion as a pipeline to women. They said that models, oftentimes young and working overseas far from home, were particularly vulnerable.”
In an extraordinary and previously unreported incident, the Brazilian model Juliana De Paula told the Times that a naked Weinstein chased her through his New York loft apartment, and that she fended him off by threatening him with a broken glass.
The incident happened after De Paula and some model friends were introduced to Weinstein during a karaoke party at the lounge above Cipriani Downtown in 2007.
After the club, they went back to Weinstein’s apartment.
The Times reports that once Weinstein, De Paula, and the models were inside the elevator, he began fondling the women’s breasts and making them kiss each other, De Paula said.
“Forcing. Like putting both heads together,” she said.
She said the women tried to resist, but were “embarrassed” and unsure of how to fend him off. The elevator opened inside Weinstein’s residence, and he immediately began getting undressed.
“My [alarm] bells rang,” she told the paper. “It was, ‘Oh my gosh, this is not going to be fun at all.’”
She ran into the kitchen, but Weinstein, naked, chased after her.
“He was moving toward me. I got scared, and I was afraid,” De Paula said.
She reached for a wine glass, broke it, brandished it, and said: “You let me out of here right now, or this is going to have serious consequences.”
She said Weinstein, laughing, asked, “Are you serious?” before allowing her to depart.
Weinstein’s representatives called the story a “fabrication.”
The Times reports that sources told them that Weinstein “deliberately” pursued Project Runway and other fashion-related businesses as a pipeline to models.
Among many alleged examples is the case of Lucia Evans, who told The New Yorker that Weinstein said during a meeting that she’d “be great in Project Runway” before allegedly forcing her to perform oral sex.