(LOS ANGELES) — Six California women filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, saying his alleged attempts to head off “unwanted sexual conduct” accusations amounted to racketeering.
The alleged activity was carried out by what the lawsuit called the “Weinstein Sexual Enterprise,” a group of people and entities the women say combined “to facilitate and conceal his pattern of unwanted sexual conduct.”
The lawsuit names the Weinstein Co., current and former members of its board of directors, including New York Knicks owner James Dolan, and others “currently unknown but discoverable.”
The class-action lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in New York, names law firms the women say Weinstein hired to orchestrate a cover-up of his alleged sexual misconduct. The lawsuit also names Israeli security firm Black Cube, which the women said approached potential complainants under “false pretenses” to “investigate which Class Members were providing information, to gather intelligence to prevent the reporting or publication of the accusations, and to secretly record Class Members’ conversations.”
“It’s a classic RICO enterprise,” plaintiff’s attorney Steve Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP said, referring to the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. “It was pretty clear they knew what was going on.”
The women said in a joint statement, “Today we stand together, united in one cause, to stop systemic sexual abuse in the workplace and the silencing of victims with NDAs [nondisclosure agreements] and threats to their careers and well-being. We have watched with horror, amazement, pride and gratitude in the last two months as women (and men) the world over have come forward and named their abusers. We stand with all those brave people who have had the courage and temerity to shine a spotlight into the darkness. Predators thrive in the shadows. It is only by keeping their secrets for them that we allow them to get away with it. That stops today.”
The lawsuit accused the “Weinstein Sexual Enterprise” of “isolating and blacklisting Weinstein’s alleged victims and covering up Weinstein’s predatory tactics.”
The plaintiffs are actresses Louisette Geiss, Katherine Kendall, Zoe Brock, Sarah Ann Thomas, Melissa Sagemiller and Nanette Klatt.
They join the more than 80 other women who have publicly accused Weinstein, who was fired by the company bearing his name because of the allegations.
“We are but six women representing hundreds. Dozens have come forward so far, and many more remain in the shadows, still trying to find their courage,” the women stated. “They are watching us defend ourselves for not coming forward sooner. They are reading internet comments, assessing the risks of coming forward and hoping that a few of us can obtain justice without them having to add their names to the list and go down in history as having been ‘Weinsteined.’ That is not a label any of us wish to wear. But we will, if we can transform our horror stories into a cultural shift.”
Representatives for Weinstein and the Weinstein Co. did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment, although the former film executive has repeatedly denied all allegations of “nonconsensual sex.”
“Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances,” his spokesman has previously said.
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