Sex abuse and harassment in the media spotlight

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We have seen an explosion of revelations from stars of screen and stage alleging sex abuse and harassment. At the centre of the storm is one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. Harvey Weinstein is a film producer and Hollywood heavyweight. He has various accolades to his name, including an Academy Award and numerous Tony Awards. Weinstein has enjoyed an illustrious career in the film industry, which has afforded him significant wealth and power.

However, the allegations against him are that he used this power and authority to sexually abuse, harass and rape women. Many of these were young or aspiring actresses at the time. It is well known that in the film industry, a successful career often depends on getting that one big break; that one moment when someone is given the opportunity to make their mark heralding a glittering career. Weinstein would have been one of the power brokers who could bestow these opportunities, giving him the ability to potentially make or break a career.

What is being described in the press as Hollywood’s “open secret”, Weinstein’s inappropriate behaviour now appears to have been common knowledge in the entertainment industry. However, it continued unchallenged for many years and a long list of actresses and celebrities have only recently spoken out about their own experiences. As is often the case when allegations of abuse are made public, the initial story was not a one-off isolated incident. Seeing victims come forward and receive public support has helped others gain the courage to speak about their own frightening experiences. The allegations span from harassment to rape, as well as inappropriate touching and various other sexual offences.

When someone enjoys a position of power, whether as a film director, a police officer, a teacher, a football coach or a scout leader, there is potential for that power to be abused. This sense of power gives abusive individuals the opportunity to behave in an unacceptable and abusive way, whilst affording them the protection of knowing that their victims are likely to be too fearful to speak out against them. This fear could be due to worries about not being believed, losing an important opportunity or ruining their career.

Our specialist abuse team at Slee Blackwell has experience of pursuing civil claims for compensation against individuals and organisations where those in power have used their position to perpetrate sex abuse and harassment.

Rachel Thain, a specialist abuse lawyer, has commented on the Harvey Weinstein scandal:

“I am not surprised that inappropriate behaviour is rife within the entertainment injury. It was only a matter of time before someone spoke out. As we have seen with the abuse scandal in football, when one person comes forward it empowers others who have been suffering in silence to share their experiences. Although the allegations have started with Harvey Weinstein, I doubt his conduct is isolated and I expect allegations against other high power individuals to follow in the coming weeks and months. Abusive individuals in a position of power often feel they are untouchable, but our experience is that they are not. My team and I are fearless in teir pursuit for justice for these individuals.”

If you have suffered abuse sex abuse and harassment from an employer, potential employer or other individual in a position of power, it is likely you are not alone. Call our specialist team on Freephone 0808 139 1597 for a free and no obligation chat with one of our experienced lawyers. You can email Rachel directly at