Harvey Weinstein takes a leave of absence from his company amid alleged sexual harassment claims

PHOTO: Producer Harvey Weinstein attends the Marchesa fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq, Sept. 13, 2017, in New York City.PlayNicholas Hunt/Getty Images
WATCH Harvey Weinstein takes a leave of absence amid alleged sexual harassment claims

Harvey Weinstein announced on Thursday that he is taking a leave of absence from The Weinstein Co. The announcement came amid claims of sexual harassment made against him by several women in interviews with The New York Times.

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In a statement obtained by ABC News, Weinstein acknowledged that he has "caused a lot of pain" and apologized for his inappropriate behavior.

During his sabbatical, Weinstein stated he will dedicate himself to taking down the National Rifle Association and President Donald Trump, he said. He also noted that he is organizing a $5 million foundation at the University of Southern California to give scholarships to women directors.

"I so respect all women and regret what happened. I hope that my actions will speak louder than words and that one day we will all be able to earn their trust and sit down together with [attorney] Lisa [Bloom] to learn more. Jay Z wrote in [his song] '4:44' 'I'm not the man I thought I was and I better be that man for my children.' The same is true for me," he stated. "I want a second chance in the community but I know I've got work to do to earn it."

He added: "I have goals that are now priorities. Trust me, this isn't an overnight process. I've been trying to do this for 10 years and this is a wake-up call. I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt and I plan to do right by all of them."

The New York Times reported that Weinstein has been accused of sexual harassment and/or unwanted physical contact by numerous people who worked with him over the past three decades or so.

The newspaper also reported that at least seven such women reached financial settlements with Weinstein over their claims.

Though Weinstein acknowledged wrongdoing, his attorney Charles Harder told ABC News in a statement that the Times' report is "saturated with false and defamatory statements" about the movie mogul, and added he is currently preparing a lawsuit against the Times on Weinstein's behalf. All proceeds made in the lawsuit will be donated to women's charities, Harder stated.

The report "relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by 9 different eyewitnesses," Harder claimed. "We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish."

The Times defended the story, telling ABC News in a statement: "We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting. Mr. Weinstein was aware and able to respond to specific allegations in our story before publication. In fact, we published his response in full."