An Oxford-educated woman who claimed that Harvey Weinstein tried to rape her has said the Hollywood mogul told her he ‘liked Chinese girls because they knew how to keep a secret’.
Rowena Chiu had started working with Weinstein after completing a degree in English literature.
Born just outside of London, she had aspired to work in the film industry and was delighted when she got a job answering phones at a talent agency which assisted Weinstein on his London and European productions.
When interviewed by Zelda Perkins for the position she was warned about Weinstein’s behaviour and was told to ‘handle him robustly’.
Weinstein at first assured Ms Perkins that he would leave Rowena alone as he ‘didn’t do Chinese or Jewish girls’.
Now in a powerful opinion piece in the New York Times, Rowena has revealed just what it was like to work under the predatory movie creator.
She said: ‘Harvey Weinstein told me he liked Chinese girls. He liked them because they were discreet, he said — because they knew how to keep a secret. Hours later, he attempted to rape me.’
Rowena said the incident occurred at the Venice Film Festival in 1998 where she was summoned to a late night meeting with Weinstein.
She highlighted how she expected the discussion would involve potential film productions and scripts.
She said after a short discussion and hours of her ‘fending off his chichat, flattery and requests for massages’ she found herself ‘pushed against the bed’.
Rowena describes how she had worn two pairs of tights for protection against him, but said she had removed a pair to appease him and let him massage her, this she said had not worked and she says he had also then proceeded to take off the other pair.
She said: ‘He’d taken off the other pair and I was terrified my underwear would be next. Harvey moved in: Please, he told me, just one thrust, and it will all be over.’
She managed to get away and later told Ms Perkins of what had happened that night.
According to Rowena the two women cried together as they felt they had limited resources to deal with the situation.
They said they would try and seek a resolution on their return, Rowena said that she was keeping a ‘devastating and suffocating secret’ which drove her to attempt suicide on more than one occasion.
She signed a non-disclosure agreement, and said she then lived with a secret trauma for almost two decades.
Rowena said she grappled with thoughts that she ‘should have left the room sooner’ and said she had been worried about joining the #MeToo movement due to media intrusion.
In January this year she decided to share her story in a survivors group and has since then been working on helping others tell the story.
Allegations against Mr Weinstein were first revealed in 2017 with many women speaking out.
Harvey, 67, has denied all accusations of nonconsensual sex and is due to stand trial in January next year. He faces life in prison for two counts of predatory sexual assault.
More than 80 women have since come forward to accuse the 67-year-old who had used settlements to keep allegations against him quiet for years.
Journalisrs Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, the New York Times reporters who first broke the Harvey Weinstein story, have released a new book on Weinstein, 'She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movemen't', which Rowena has helped contribute to.