Allegations against a Lionsgate employee have surfaced after a former lawyer at the studio came forward to accuse her former boss of sexual harassment. Former executive vice president of legal affairs at Lionsgate Wendy Jaffe says she endured longstanding abuse at the hands of her boss, general counsel Wayne Levin.
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Jaffe said she once viewed her powerful boss as a father figure until he demanded she becomes his slave and allegedly subjected her to sexual harassment. Jaffe claims she didn't come forward for years because she was afraid of losing her job and ultimately her career in the industry. In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Jaffe said: "I remember feeling like my head was spinning, and I’m sort of outside myself and I immediately went to the mode of spinning plates."
"I started to question: 'How could this be happening? What did I do to make him think this was going to be OK?'" Jaffe said as she added her voice to the growing #MeToo movement that exploded last October. "And if I embarrass him, I’m in trouble. My career is over." The #MeToo movement started as a social justice movement and somewhere along the line morphed into a witchhunt that feminists used as a vehicle in their were against the so-called "patriarchy."
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If the abuse Jaffe alleges occurred was so serious, why did she wait so long to report it? If Levin is indeed guilty of the sexual misconduct he is accused of, then it would be difficult for employers to discriminate against her simply because she came forward to expose inappropriate conduct. One thing the #MeToo movement has forgotten is in America; you are innocent until proven guilty.
Jaffe finally decided to complain about Levin at the same time she left the company in 2016 and claims her departure led to top executives making false statements about her to prevent her from getting work. She also claims her fully vested stock options she was entitled to suddenly disappeared from her account. Jaffe's attorneys claimed the disparaging statements against her constituted a violation of a $2.5 million settlement paid in December 2016 that required Lionsgate to keep quiet about the reasons for her departure.
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Levin left Lionsgate in November 2017 citing his departure was "for health and personal reasons" in a regulatory filing. The studio said in a statement, "We are committed to a safe, respectful and tolerant environment for all of our employees." Among Jaffe's accusations are claims that Levin started flirting with her and introducing sexual innuendo into their conversations. Jaffe alleges the harassment culminated into physical assaults around 2002. One night while working late in the office Jaffe claims Levin led her into a walk-in closet and said: "he wanted me to be his slave and he wanted me on my knees to crawl to him." The abuse stopped in 2003, but Jaffe says that Levin started increasing her workload to the point it caused her "cardiac distress."
"When you’re the head of the legal department, you’re supposed to set the tone for what is ethical, what is responsible and what is lawful," she said. "When you don’t, when you flagrantly choose not to, that sends a message." In the meantime, it seems the trend of bringing up decades-old misconduct won't be ending anytime soon.
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