Harvey Weinstein hired elite intelligence agency to target accuser Rose McGowan, others: Source
The contract with the company, Black Cube, ended in July, the source said.
— -- Harvey Weinstein hired an elite private agency run by former intelligence officers to gather information on women who had accused him of sexual misconduct, and specifically targeted accuser Rose McGowan, a source familiar with the investigation told ABC News.
The use of the company -- called Black Cube -- was first reported by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker. Farrow appeared on "Good Morning America" Tuesday to discuss his latest New Yorker piece and what he calls "an international campaign" on behalf of Weinstein to keep his accusers from coming forward.
"This was elaborate and expensive," Farrow said. "This was all conducted in secrecy ... I think the story makes it clear that they were focusing on everyone trying to get word out about this."
A spokeswoman for Weinstein told The New Yorker about this new report, “It is a fiction to suggest that any individuals were targeted or suppressed at any time.”
Farrow's latest piece alleges Weinstein hired multiple firms -- including Black Cube -- to gather information from the accusers and from reporters working on stories.
The report claims that one Black Cube operative, whose real name was not used in the story, reached out to McGowan, posing as an activist launching an initiative to combat discrimination against women in the workplace. The story adds that the same investigator also contacted a reporter for New York magazine saying she had allegations against Weinstein to share.
That reporter, Ben Wallace, told The New Yorker, the woman, using a different name than the one she used with McGowan, asked him “about the status and scope of my inquiry, and about who I might be talking to, without giving me any meaningful help or information.”
Farrow said he used a photograph of this operative to conclude that McGowan and Wallace were talking about the same woman. The operative also allegedly emailed Farrow himself and New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor under an assumed name when they were working on Weinstein stories. Kantor was one of the reporters on the Times story back on Oct. 5, alleging Weinstein reached confidential settlements with some harassment accusers over several decades.
Furthermore, a source familiar with the alleged investigative work done for Weinstein confirmed to ABC News that McGowan was specifically targeted and that Black Cube secured a part of the transcript of McGowan's upcoming memoir "Brave" through its undercover agent. McGowan has been outspoken on social media, accusing Weinstein of sexual assault.
“Black Cube was hired to find out about the people who were launching a campaign against Harvey Weinstein. Shareholders, partners, journalists and Rose McGowan," the source told ABC News. “Black Cube ended the contract in July. A couple loose ends were tied up in August, but the contract ended in July. They felt that they could not help him anymore.”
This source information comes after an official statement to ABC News from Black Cube that did not admit to working with Weinstein, but did say they work on “uncovering negative campaigns.” However, the company had said it does not get involved in “sexual harassment cases.”
“It is Black Cube’s policy to never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company’s work," the company said in a statement. "Black Cube supports the work of many leading law firms around the world, especially in the U.S., gathering evidence for complex legal processes, involving commercial disputes, among them uncovering negative campaigns. The company does not get involved in family disputes or sexual harassment cases. It should be highlighted that Black Cube applies high moral standards to its work, and operates in full compliance with the law of any jurisdiction in which it operates -- strictly following the guidance and legal opinions provided by leading law firms from around the world.”
Since the first Times report on Weinstein in early October, dozens of women have made allegations of harassment and abuse against the former studio head in the New Yorker, on social media and in other media outlets. There have been serious repercussions after the allegations: Weinstein was terminated by his eponymous company, and he later resigned from its board; he was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, among other organizations; and his wife, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, announced last month that she was leaving him. Additionally, he is under investigation by police in four jurisdictions -- New York City, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and London.
Weinstein has denied "any allegations of nonconsensual sex" via his spokeswoman.
"Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual," according to the full statement from Weinstein's spokesperson. "Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.”
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