Open secret: Harvey Weinstein created a list of nearly 100 people who might have damaging info about his behavior

The Observer calls it a “hit list,” which doesn’t quite fit since no one on it was marked for death. (I hope?) But in a broad sense the term is apt. The point of an actual hit list is to silence witnesses. That’s what Weinstein was seemingly hoping to do with his list too, not with violence but presumably either with cash or intimidation.

Allegedly he compiled it himself many months ago for private investigators once he found out the New York Times was working on an expose about him. None of Weinstein’s accusers had gone public about him when he wrote it — and yet the names of several women who have since accused him in print appear on it. Some, like Rose McGowan, are known to have entered into settlements with Weinstein so naturally he would think of them when trying to recall women who might say something incriminating. But others, like British actress Sophie Dix, didn’t sign anything. And notably, Weinstein’s alleged assault on Dix happened more than 25 years ago, in the early 1990s. If he didn’t assault her, how did she end up on a list of women whom Weinstein thought might be likely to damage him publicly? The document reeks of consciousness of guilt.

The document was compiled in early 2017, around nine months before the storm that blew up on 5 October when the New York Times published a series of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein.

Individuals named on the list were to be targeted by investigators who would covertly extract and accumulate information from those who might know of claims or who might come forward with allegations against the film producer. Feedback was then to be relayed to Weinstein and his lawyers.

The size of the list – 85 names appear on one document, with an addendum identifying another six individuals – appears to corroborate claims that sexual misconduct allegations against the 65-year-old were an open secret throughout Hollywood

Weinstein, the list confirms, was aware that the New York Times was gathering testimony from his victims long before it first ran the story. A public relations professional is named alongside a note stating that “HW [Harvey Weinstein] in contact w/him. Friends w/Jodi Kantor”. Kantor is the New York Times journalist who broke the story that immediately engulfed the producer and the film production company he co-founded with his brother.

At least four women who eventually accused Weinstein publicly appeared on the first version of the list earlier this year. Annabella Sciorra was added to the extended version in August. The Times bombshell and Sciorra’s revelations to Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker didn’t burst until two months later. It’s possible, I guess, that Weinstein had such a vast army of private eyes and paid informants within the media itself that he was somehow finding out in real time whom Kantor and Farrow were talking to as they were interviewing people and that’s how the list was compiled. But remember that it wasn’t just the Times and the New Yorker breaking news about Weinstein. Sophie Dix revealed her encounter with him to the Guardian in October, long after she appeared on his list. There’s no obvious explanation for why Weinstein would have had her in mind as a potential problem months earlier, particularly given her obscurity within the industry and how long ago the alleged incident happened, except that the assault really did happen and he remembered it.

Conceivably, Dix, Sciorra, and all of Weinstein’s other accusers had been whispering to colleagues over the years about Weinstein and *that’s* how Weinstein started the list. (Dix told the Guardian that she told “family, friends and colleagues” about her encounter with Weinstein after it happened.) It’s not that he independently recalled any assaults, it’s that there were women in entertainment in LA, New York, and London who had said something to someone who had told a friend, etc, and Weinstein’s PIs had found out about all of it via interviews. But that scenario just puts you back to the threshold question: If Harvey Weinstein is innocent, why were so many women accusing him of terrible things? And why were they doing it *privately* when they had everything to lose and nothing to gain by doing so, particularly those who didn’t sign any financial settlement?

I’m tempted to call the list a blockbuster for prosecutors, a treasure map to victims and witnesses as well as evidence of consciousness of guilt, but in Weinstein’s case prosecution is more of a headache than an opportunity. He’s still well-connected and filthy rich, many of his alleged offenses happened years ago with little hard evidence to substantiate them, and any prosecution will inevitably focus attention on why the DAs in Manhattan and LA didn’t end his reign of terror sooner. Besides, prosecutors have their hands full with other matters. The LAPD alone is reportedly investigating nearly two dozen sex-crime cases connected to the entertainment industry, only a few of which have to do with Weinstein. Here’s a new one for them involving a mogul from a different media industry — Russell Simmons, who allegedly went to dinner with another accused sex criminal, Brett Ratner, and a 17-year-old model in 1991 and then back to his place with both of them.

Quickly, Simmons began making aggressive sexual advances, yanking off her clothes, Khalighi said.

“I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I’ll never forget the look on his face,” she recalled. “In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.”

Khalighi said that Simmons, who was then about twice her age, tried to force her to have intercourse. “I fought it wildly,” she said. He eventually relented and coerced her to perform oral sex, she alleged. “I guess I just acquiesced.”…

Feeling “disgusting,” Khalighi said she went to take a shower. Minutes later, she alleged, Simmons walked up behind her in the shower and briefly penetrated her without her consent. She said she jerked away, then he left. “It hurt so much.”

Simmons claims everything was consensual, but read to the end of the story — which includes a ton of new Ratner sleaze — and you’ll see that Khalighi called Simmons the day that the news broke about Ratner’s alleged misconduct a few weeks ago to tell him she was considering going public. They spoke for half an hour and he’s texted her repeatedly since to ask if they could talk further. Simmons has money to burn, so if Khalighi was in this for a payout, presumably she would have gotten it by now. She told the LA Times that she told three friends about the incident with Simmons before going public. All three corroborated that for the paper.

One last point about Weinstein’s “hit list.” There’s no reason to think it’s exhaustive. Two of his famous public accusers, Lupita Nyong’o and Daryl Hannah, apparently aren’t on it or else, I assume, the Observer would have named them in its story. It may be that Weinstein has behaved badly with so many women that he simply can’t remember them all, reserving the list for those whom he recalled and/or who have been known to whisper about him through the years. Conversely, there are all sorts of people on the list whom the Observer *didn’t* name; their names are blacked out in the version of the document that the paper published. Who knows how many Weinstein victims are still keeping quiet out of fear.