Zelda Perkins, Harvey Weinstein’s former assistant in Miramax’s London office, purposely broke her NDA in a new interview with the Financial Times, in which she detailed the producer’s alleged sexual misconduct over the years and the ways in which he and his team worked to cover up his behavior.
Perkins, who worked for Weinstein while he was heading up Miramax Films back in the late 1990s, told FT that she had decided to suffer the consequences of breaking her legal contract in order to paint a clearer picture of what she characterized as decades of abuse that went on behind closed doors.
“I want to publicly break my non-disclosure agreement,” she said. “Unless somebody does this there won’t be a debate about how egregious these agreements are and the amount of duress that victims are put under. My entire world fell in because I thought the law was there to protect those who abided by it. I discovered that it had nothing to do with right and wrong and everything to do with money and power.”
According to Perkins, she was a target of Weinstein’s sexual harassment during the time she worked for him, almost on a daily basis. Among Weinstein’s most frequent indiscretions: allegedly exposing himself to her, asking for massages, and requesting that she watch him bathe.
“This was his behavior on every occasion I was alone with him,” she recounted. “I often had to wake him up in the hotel in the mornings and he would try to pull me into bed.”
Perkins endured Weinstein’s objectionable behavior for years, but the last straw was, she said, when he sexually assaulted a female colleague during the 1998 Venice Film Festival.
“She was white as a sheet and shaking and in a very bad emotional state,” she claimed. “She told me something terrible had happened. She was in shock and crying and finding it very hard to talk. I was furious, deeply upset and very shocked. I said: ‘We need to go to the police,’ but she was too distressed. Neither of us knew what to do in a foreign environment.”
The two women ended up working with the London-based law firm Simons Moorhead & Burton, where they were advised to seek a settlement claim. They signed a contract in October 1998 for £250,000, or approximately $330,000, split between the two of them.
As part of the agreement, Perkins said, she was not allowed to keep a copy of her NDA, though it apparently included, in part, the creation of a complaints procedure at Miramax, as well as therapy for Weinstein “for as long as his therapist deems necessary.” (Weinstein has roundly denied Perkins’ accusations, and said through a spokesperson in a statement to FT that “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”)
Perkins added that while she initially intended to go public about Weinstein’s behavior, she was discouraged from doing so by her lawyers, who “said words to the effect of: ‘they are not going to take your word against his with no evidence.'”
“I was very upset because the whole point was that we had to stop him by exposing his behavior,” she said. “I was warned that he and his lawyers would try to destroy my credibility if I went to court. They told me he would try to destroy me and my family.”
For Perkins, a big impetus for her coming forward now is to highlight “the inequality of power” ingrained in NDAs and to help “other women who have been sidelined and who aren’t being allowed to own their own history or their trauma to be able to discuss what they have suffered. I want them to see that the sky won’t fall in.”