Sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein continue to mount after his wife announced she was leaving him and his most powerful allies, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, expressed disgust at his actions.
Georgina Chapman, co-founder of the Marchesa luxury brand and the mother of two of Weinstein’s children, said she was ending her 10-year marriage to the disgraced producer.
“My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions,” she said after three women accused her husband of rape and more stars including Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow said he had sexually harassed them.
In a statement, Chapman, who founded Marchesa with design partner Keren Craig in 2004, added: “I have chosen to leave my husband. Caring for my young children is my first priority.”
Among the latest allegations were claims that Weinstein subjected the Italian actor Asia Argento to oral sex against her will and forced the aspiring actor Lucia Evans to perform oral sex on him, according to a thoroughly documented article in the New Yorker.
It also published an audio tape recorded from a police wiretap placed on the Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in which Weinstein admits to groping her and asks her to join him in his hotel room while he showers. Paltrow, 45, told the New York Times that Weinstein attempted to lure her into giving him a massage in a hotel room when she was 22.
Weinstein has “unequivocally denied” allegations of non-consensual sex but more than a dozen women have now recounted sexual harassment by him in a mounting scandal that has cost him his marriage, his job as head of his own company, and the support of many of the most powerful figures in the US.
More than 20 male actors and directors who have worked with Weinstein, including Quentin Tarantino and Michael Moore, declined to comment or did not respond to inquiries from the Guardian about the accusations.
Among those who did comment were Colin Firth, who called Weinstein “a frightening man to stand up to”, and Benedict Cumberbatch, who stars as Thomas Edison in the upcoming Weinstein Company period drama The Current War.
“I am utterly disgusted by the continuing revelations of Harvey Weinstein’s horrifying and unforgivable actions,” Cumberbatch said in a statement. “We need to collectively stand up and support victims of abuse such as the brave and inspiring women who have spoken out against him and say we hear you and believe you.”
Many of Weinstein’s political allies also broke their silence. Barack and Michelle Obama, whose daughter Malia served as an intern in Weinstein’s company earlier this year, released a joint statement expressing disgust with Weinstein.
“Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status. We should celebrate the courage of women who have come forward to tell these painful stories,” it said.
Congressional Democrats, including the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, and the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren have given charities thousands of dollars in donations they had received from Weinstein.
Hillary Clinton said she was “shocked and appalled” by the revelations about Weinstein. She also praised the women coming forward: “Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behaviour.”
The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts is rejecting a $5m pledge from Weinstein to fund an endowment for female film-makers.
Weinstein was sacked three days after a report in the New York Times alleged decades of crude sexual behaviour on his part toward female employees and actors, including Ashley Judd.
Since his firing, much of Hollywood has reacted with disgust and outrage, including Meryl Streep, Lena Dunham, Jennifer Lawrence and George Clooney.
The British actor Romola Garai told the Guardian that she felt violated when was asked to audition for Weinstein in his hotel room while he was wearing only a dressing gown.