Another Buffalo woman accuses Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault - The Buffalo News

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Another Buffalo woman accuses Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault

As Wende Walsh recently listened to a  New York City Police recording of Harvey Weinstein, she remembered a snowy night in Buffalo nearly 40 years ago.

In the New York  City Police recording, which was part of a sting, Weinstein pleaded with a young model whom he had allegedly groped to come into his hotel room.

"It all came back," Walsh said. "It just sounded so familiar."

Walsh said that when she was working as a waitress at an Elmwood Avenue bar in the late 1970s, Weinstein begged her for a ride and then once inside the car, he sexually assaulted her.

Two nights later, she said, he showed up at her apartment and tried to force his way in but was prevented by the landlord.

There's been an avalanche of accusations against the former Miramax co-founder in the past month, including allegations he sexually harassed or sexually assaulted women and paid hush money to some of them. More than 75 women have accused him of conduct from inappropriate behavior to potential crimes.

Weinstein issued an apology for his behavior but has denied any non-consensual acts.

Paula Wachowiak of Buffalo says she was a production assistant working for Harvey Weinstein as he shot a movie in Buffalo in 1980 when he invited her into his hotel room and tried to persuade her to give him a massage. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Walsh is the third Buffalo or former Buffalo woman to accuse Weinstein of wrongdoing during the 1970s or early 1980s, before he became internationally famous.

“Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” a spokeswoman for Weinstein said Friday regarding Walsh's allegations.

The News previously reported that Paula Wachowiak was working as a college production assistant for Weinstein in 1980 when she was sent to his hotel room in North Tonawanda to have Weinstein sign some checks. She said Weinstein answered the door wearing only a small towel and then, while sitting on a bed, asked Wachowiak for a massage. She refused.

Also, a woman told The New York Times that when she was working for Weinstein in Buffalo at his former concert promoting business in the late 1970s, he invited her to come with him to New York City. Hope Exiner d'Amore said when they arrived, Weinstein claimed there was only one hotel room for them and she told the Times that he forcibly performed oral sex and intercourse on her.

The day the New Yorker story that included the police recording of Weinstein was published, one of Walsh's friends expressed mock surprise about the allegations against Weinstein preying on young actresses on her Facebook page.

"And cocktail waitresses," Walsh replied to the friend's Facebook post. "He assaulted me in my car in 1979...I always wondered why this hadn't come out...."

Walsh's allegation

Walsh shared this account with The Buffalo News:

Walsh said she was working as a waitress at Mr. Goodbar on what was then known as the Elmwood Strip when Weinstein came in on a cold, snowy night, either in late 1979 or early 1980.

'You disgust me': Buffalo woman tells of 1980 encounter with Weinstein

She previously had worked at another bar at the corner of Main and Transit streets in Amherst, which Weinstein owned. It was called Patrick Henry's, a neighborhood joint where local bands played, the tables were made from barrels and peanut shells were strewn on the floor. That bar was taken over by Harvey Weinstein and Corky Burger, two former University at Buffalo students who formed a successful concert promoting company. They renamed the bar Stage 1, and Weinstein and Burger attracted the up-and-coming bands to play.

"It was very cool," Walsh said. "I saw the Ramones there."

Harvey Weinstein (Emily Berl/The New York Times)

But Walsh said she didn't like working at Stage 1. She said Weinstein would make boorish comments, prodding the waitresses to "bend over more."

In the summer of 1979 she moved to an apartment on Elmwood Avenue and began working a few blocks away at Mr. Goodbar.

The night Weinstein came into the bar, Walsh said, she waited on him. He stayed until closing time – 4 a.m. – and then started begging her for a ride to his car, Walsh said.

Walsh usually parked on Forest Avenue, around the corner from the bar, and she said Weinstein followed her and  continued to plead with her to give him a ride.

"He got in the car," Walsh said. "He exposed himself. He was trying to push my head into his lap.... I was mortified. It was 4 a.m. and people were going to their cars."

Walsh said she told him "no" repeatedly, but she said he persisted.

"He was a guy who wouldn't take no for answer," she said.

Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex, Walsh said. She can't remember if he got out of the car or she drove him somewhere. She just remembered wanting him to go away.

"I just wanted him to get out of my car and stop talking to me," she said.

A few nights later, Walsh said, she returned home to her apartment at 4 a.m. and found Weinstein on the porch.

She said Weinstein was complaining about the cold and asked her if she would let him inside her apartment. He pushed his way into the apartment building and followed Walsh to her upstairs apartment.

Harvey Weinstein's Buffalo years: Celebs, pols and a punch in the nose

Walsh said she shushed Weinstein and told him to leave. She was struck by how he seemed to be acting as though nothing bad had happened a few nights earlier, Walsh said.

"He wouldn't leave," she said.

Weinstein exposed himself, she said.

At some point, Walsh's landlord, John Healey, a friend who lived downstairs, came upstairs, Walsh said. "I heard yelling," Healey told The Buffalo News. Healey said he saw Walsh and Weinstein and saw that Walsh was upset. He said he told Weinstein, whom Healey said he did not know at the time, to get off his property.

Healey, an artist and photographer who now lives in New Mexico, said a couple of days after the incident, he remembered contacting friends of his who are private investigators and police officers to inquire about Weinstein. That's when he learned about him being the concert promoter. Healey had no other interactions with Weinstein.

Walsh did not go to the police. She said she told her sister, Tracey Walsh, about Weinstein's actions at the time. The sister confirmed with The Buffalo News that Walsh had told her about the encounters many years ago.

But it wasn't until Wende Walsh brought it up again last week that Tracey Walsh realized who the alleged perpetrator was.

"I didn't put the Harvey and the Weinstein together," Tracey Walsh said. "I remembered Harvey and Corky. It wasn't until she said it and I thought: 'Oh my God. That was Harvey Weinstein.'"

Wende Walsh is accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting her in her car in Buffalo nearly four decades ago. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

'A jerk with his pants down'

After the two incidents, Walsh said she saw Weinstein around Buffalo but he never interacted with her again. And she put it behind her.

Walsh wants people who read her story to understand that what happened was awful, but it didn't destroy her or leave her fearful.

"I've owned a couple of successful businesses and had some great relationships," Walsh said.

She still lives in Buffalo and currently tends bar at the Seneca Niagara Casino and Resort.

"This thing never defined me," she said.

It wasn't until much later that it occurred to Walsh that what she said Weinstein did to her was sexual assault.

"I just wanted it to be over," she remembered thinking at the time.

As a waitress working in a bar in the late '70s and '80s, said Walsh, she often had to deal with uncomfortable situations. Normally, the interactions were in the bars, and if they were getting out of hand, she could go to a bouncer.

"You can't complain about every guy who comes on to you," Walsh said of the attitude back then. "You look like a jerk."

When the first Weinstein accusations surfaced Oct. 5 in The New York Times, Walsh noticed how all of her female friends had a story to tell about being harassed or assaulted.

Walsh is hopeful that all of the publicity around Weinstein, the allegations coming out against other Hollywood celebrities including from men, and the #metoo campaign, will lead to change.

"Everybody is talking about this now," Walsh said. "It isn't just me. It's everybody. You kind of know that. But I think it's kind of phenomenal the way people are coming out."

"People in positions of power need to know they can't do this," she said.

As for Weinstein, she said hopes he's seen for what she believes he is: "A jerk with his pants down."

'You disgust me': Buffalo woman tells of 1980 encounter with Weinstein

 

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