Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Monday, 6 November 2017

Meet The Woman Whose Story Might Get Weinstein Arrested

Paz De La Huerta: Your Need To Know

The Debrief: Paz de la Huerta’s story is no more or less braver than other women’s, but it's an important story. Here’s why…

Paz de la Huerta is one of more than 60 women to come forward to accuse film producer, Harvey Weinstein of a whole slew of behaviours, running the gamut from sexual harassment all the way through to rape. Paz claims Weinstein raped her twice.

Who Is Paz de la Huerta? 

We all know a lot about Weinstein, but let’s tell you about Paz, to show you that she’s a person, not an object, as her alleged treatment suggests. Her full name is Maria de la Paz Elizabeth Sofia Adriana de la Huerta y Bruce. Her dad is the Spanish Duke of Mandas and Villanueva and her mum works on women's issues in developing countries. She grew up in New York, and her first film was The Cider House Rules, shot when she was 14. She has gone on to feature in Enter The Void, Boardwalk Empire, actually-quite-good-lesbian coming-of-age film Bare, and if you’ve seen Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie, you’ll remember Paz as the fabulously Hollywood woman who crashes one of his first interviews. 

Walking around a motel in a bikini, she accuses the cameraman of filming her. Theroux later said Paz was potentially going to feature in the film for a lot longer, as she had said she'd been in a reenactment of one of the Magick rituals Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard used to do. But Theroux cut all of that, saying that during filming ‘She started singing a Charles Manson song. I realised then we really went too far down the road with all this, but it was good fun.’

Paz also features in Lana Del Rey’s Video Games promo video. The 2011 clip sees footage of Paz stumbling drunk to a car spliced in with moody Tumblr clips of Lana. Paz later said it didn’t offend her much.

What has Paz de la Huerta alleged against Harvey Weinstein?

Paz told CNN that in October 2010, 12 years after she first met Weinstein on the set of The Cider House Rules (his company Miramax distributed it), he raped her. She was 26 and he was 58 and when he allegedly offered her a ride home after they bumped into each other at a club in Tribeca, Manhattan. Paz accepted. But once home, Weinstein insisted on drinking with her. Forcing women to drink has been a recurring theme of other sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein: Lupita Nyong’o wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times that Weinstein demanded she drink, getting cross when she refused, and Kate Beckinsale wrote on Instagram that the producer offered her booze in his hotel room when she was just 17 years old.

Paz alleges the first rape happened then. ‘He pulled my dress up and unzipped his pants and raped me.’

He said ‘I know you’re ready to become a real actress’, she claims, going on to say ‘He finished what he did, and told me he’d be calling me.’

A few weeks later, Paz says, after calling her repeatedly, leaving his car outside her apartment building, getting his assistant to seek her out to say ‘Harvey wants to see you’ and exposing himself to her in LA, Weinstein turned up at her apartment’s lobby and refused to leave. She reluctantly let him upstairs, where he raped her again. ‘The first time I was in complete shock and it happened so quickly. The second time, I was terrified of him. In a million ways I knew how to say no, I said “no”.’

Does Paz have a case against Weinstein? 

Paz's therapist, Sue Ann Piliero, gave a short statement to her lawyer Aaron Filler, who presented it to The New York Times. It seems to corroborate Paz's story: ‘I recall you telling me that Harvey Weinstein was seeking sexual contact with you on more than one occasion with the promise of additional roles. I recall you reporting to me a sexual encounter with Harvey Weinstein involving intercourse in your apartment in 2010 that resulted in you feeling victimised’.

‘I recall you telling me that it felt coercive to you and that you didn’t want to have sex with him, but felt that you had to as he was a man of power and rank and you couldn’t say no to his sexual advances.’

As 2010 drew to a close, Paz fell into depression, and was drinking heavily, she says. She has been reluctant to say anything publicly about the rapes, but hopes that the work she and the NYPD is doing to investigate her story is going to bring Weinstein to justice. ‘I think he's done it to too many women, and he's gotten away with it for too many years. It would be nice to know justice exists.’

Could Paz's allegations see Weinstein charged with a crime?

What makes Paz’s allegations stand out is that the incident happened within the statute of limitations for rape in New York state. Meanwhile, loads of other allegations either haven't been made to the police or haven't related to incidents which took place within a statute of limitations for that state and that crime (explaining why they haven't been reported to the police!).

In the US, if you commit a crime but you don’t get charged with a certain timeframe, then you may never be tried for it, because of the time limit. Unfortunately, this puts, even more, pressure on victims of sexual abuse to come forward despite there not only being a lack of support for those who deal, but an active attempt to hurt those who do. Mira Sorvino wrote for Time that when she told a senior at Miramax about Weinstein sexually harassing her, ‘her reaction was as though I was suddenly radioactive for daring to bring it up’. And Gwyneth Paltrow said after Weinstein harassed her ‘I was expected to keep the secret’.

The statute of limitations really sucks because, while women can spend decades afraid to speak out against their abusers, every minute that goes by is another minute that the perpetrator has got away with it.

But it might be the proper end of the line for Weinstein. Robert K Boyce, the NYPD’s chief of detectives told The New York Times: ‘We have an actual case going forward. If this person was still in New York and it was recent we would go right away and make the arrest, no doubt. But we’re talking about a seven-year-old case. And we have to move forward gathering evidence.’

Boyce added that Paz has ‘put forth a credible and detailed narrative’ and that his detectives have found ‘corroboration along the way’, with Paz able ‘to articulate each and every movement of the crime: where she was, where they met, where this happened and what he did.’

Meanwhile, the district attorneys office said ‘We are taking it seriously and we are investigating it. We are hoping to build a case. If we can build one, we will build one.’

UK police are currently investigating allegations relating to Weinstein, but if there is going to be any US legal action against Weinstein, who denies ‘any allegations of nonconsensual sex’, which is itself a bit of a misnomer because, well, you can’t have ‘nonconsensual sex’, nonconsensual sex is simply rape, this looks to be the strongest case yet.

Is Paz the perfect victim?

Some people out there might be hoping for a perfect victim. However, no such person exists, and even if she did, Weinstein's denying every single allegation against him.

Ans, even if Paz isn't a butter-wouldn't-melt sort, isn't that precisely why a predator might go for her? If we've learned anything from the multiple incidents of grooming gangs targeting vulnerable young girls, many got away with it because police wrote them off as 'slags', rather than considering they were being made to do things they simply weren't able to consent too. Weinstein's alleged victims might be older, that doesn't mean they were able to consent, or that they did consent. And, anyway, should we only be seeking to defend the perfect victims, or should we be rooting for anyone who's said they've been hurt? It's not as if the majority of rapists ever see a prison cell, anyway. And it's worth remembering that while men like, say, Jimmy Savile, long hid behind their eccentricism as a guise for their horrific behaviour, eccentricism in women is far sooner used against them in the court of public opinion.

Paz has spoken out bravely, just like all those other dozens of women - let’s hope she, and they, can get some justice.

You might also be interested in:

Harvey Weinstein's Downfall Needs To Be A Watershed Moment

Why Harvey Weinstein 'Trying To Do Better' Just Isn't Good Enough

Is Harvey Weinstein Going To Prison?

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Film, Sexual Assault, Rape