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After months of media anticipation, Rose McGowan‘s memoir Brave dropped Tuesday. In it, she details her childhood growing up in the Children of God cult and explains her extensive cosmetic surgery. The biggest bombshell, though, is undoubtedly McGown’s telling of her alleged rape at the hands of Harvey Weinstein after their first meeting more than 20 years ago.
The actor and activist has been openly critical of Weinstein for years in private, but the current sea change in Hollywood has brought McGowan’s demons front and center, and she seems more than ready to confront them. This past October, she tweeted that the disgraced mogul had allegedly raped her early in her career, but perhaps because of non-disclosure agreements surrounding the events, she didn’t elaborate further at the time. McGowan writes in Brave about a person she refers to only as “the Monster,” but context clues like the Monster running Miramax make it pretty easy to infer that she’s talking about Weinstein.
McGowan recalls first seeing the Monster at a screening of her movie Going All the Way during the 1997 Sundance film festival. McGowan was 23 at the time, and writes that Weinstein allegedly invited her to a meeting at a restaurant after the screening, but later updated the location to his hotel suite. McGowan describes being excited to meet her boss as she was escorted to his room for what she believed was a meeting to “plot out the grand arc of my career.”
Instead, she alleges, after a brief discussion about her work, Weinstein held her down on the edge of a jacuzzi and forced oral sex on her while he masturbated. She describes herself as frozen “like a statue” in the moment. Later, Weinstein allegedly called her and described her as “a special friend.”
McGowan says that immediately following the rape, she attended a photo event for Phantom (another Miramax movie she was in) where she allegedly told one of her co-stars what had happened. The co-star (who McGowan has previously identified as Ben Affleck), reportedly said, “Goddamnit. I told [Weinstein] to stop doing that.” Affleck is still yet to respond to this particular allegation, though he did face a number of separate harassment allegations this past fall as the #MeToo movement was taking off, which he spoke about on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in November.
Many of Weinstein’s over 80 accusers have alleged the former executive coerced them into similar situations to the one McGowan describes. Many report Weinstein asking them to meet him in various hotel suites, where he would either force sex on them or demand it himself. A Weinstein spokesperson told the Guardian: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein. Mr Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances…. Mr Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.”
McGowan’s 5-part docuseries Citizen Rose, which chronicles her activism these past few months, premieres Tuesday, Jan. 30 on E!.
If you are a victim of sexual assault or want more information on sexual assault, contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.