How Actress Paz de la Huerta’s Allegations About Harvey Weinstein Could Lead to His Arrest
Former Boardwalk Empire star Paz de la Huerta is the latest actress to come forward with damning allegations against disgraced executive Harvey Weinstein. In the weeks since the initial accusations surfaced in a pair of bombshell exposés, dozens of women (and counting) have courageously shared traumatic stories of sexual harassment, assault, and rape at the hands of one of Hollywood’s most powerful men. But this case is different from many others; the New York Police Department could bring felony charges against Weinstein based on de la Huerta’s allegations.
In a new interview with Vanity Fair, de la Huerta says that she was raped by Weinstein on two separate occasions: The actress had occasional interactions with the producer in the years leading up to the first incident, which occurred in November 2010. After meeting Weinstein at a Manhattan hotel bar, de la Huerta says he offered her a ride back to her home in Tribeca. According to her recollection, Weinstein demanded to be let inside. “Things got very uncomfortable very fast,” she says:
Immediately when we got inside the house, he started to kiss me and I kind of brushed [him] away. Then he pushed me onto the bed and his pants were down and he lifted up my skirt. I felt afraid. . . . It wasn’t consensual . . . It happened very quickly. . . . He stuck himself inside me. . . . When he was done he said he’d be calling me. I kind of just laid on the bed in shock.
Unfortunately, that would not be de la Huerta’s last encounter with Weinstein, who attempted to contact her numerous times via phone after the incident in November. In December that same year, de la Huerta says she returned home from a photo shoot to find Weinstein waiting in the lobby of her building, even though she had asked him repeatedly to leave her alone:
He hushed me and said, ‘Let’s talk about this in your apartment.’ I was in no state. I was so terrified of him. . . . I did say no, and when he was on top of me I said, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ He kept humping me and it was disgusting. He’s like a pig. . . . He raped me.
When it was over, de la Huerta says, “I laid there feeling sick. He looked at me and said, ‘I’ll put you in a play.’ He left and I never heard from him again. He knew he had done a bad thing.”
As previously reported, the NYPD is currently investigating Weinstein in the wake of a growing number of allegations against the former producer. Nicholas DiGaudio, the lead NYPD detective in the Weinstein investigation, has interviewed de la Huerta, who recently received a letter from her therapist supporting her claims; at the time, her therapist was the only one with knowledge of the alleged rapes. The actress shared the letter with the New York district attorney’s office, which could lead to charges against Weinstein. “I believe based on my interviews with Paz that from the NYPD standpoint we have enough to make an arrest,” says DiGaudio.
Because the alleged assaults took place less than 10 years ago, they fall within New York’s statute of limitations for rape in the first degree — a felony charge that carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years and a $5,000 fine, with a mandatory minimum of five years imprisonment.
Paz de la Huerta is another one of those actresses who appeared to be primed for great things, particularly after a pair of notable performances in Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void and HBO’s acclaimed period crime drama Boardwalk Empire. But when she was written out of the show after two seasons, her career took a strange turn. Her most notable role in the years since was the schlocky, widely-derided 2013 horror flick Nurse 3D, and there have been numerous tabloid stories about her drunk and occasionally violent behavior in public.
Speaking with Vanity Fair, de la Huerta explains that the incredibly traumatic experiences with Weinstein continued to affect her in distressing ways — and understandably so:
I don’t think I was taking very good care of myself. What happened with Harvey left me scarred for many years. I felt so disgusted by it, with myself . . . I became a little self-destructive. It was really hard for me to deal, to cope.
de la Huerta’s story is important to note for many reasons, but it’s also instructive in our perception of coping and trauma. Oftentimes, people cast doubt on a woman’s allegations of harassment or assault because she is sexually promiscuous or prone to “self-destructive” behavior, or because she tends to get a little too intoxicated or has been seen under the influence of drugs. Women who appear to “make a scene,” as de la Huerta has done numerous times in the eyes of tabloid reporters and paparazzi (and by extension, those who devour those stories), are often disbelieved and viewed as not credible.
What many fail to consider is this: That any and all of these particular behaviors can be the unfortunate byproduct of struggling to cope with traumatic experience(s) — and that’s not limited to rape or assault, or even a single gender. Instead of looking to these behaviors as a reason to doubt, we should be considering them as a reason to believe.