The assault accusations against Harvey Weinstein continue to grow as more actresses come forward with explosive charges against the movie mogul, whose lurid behavior has opened a debate on sexual harassment and hypocrisy in Hollywood.

Harvey Weinstein and Donna Karan. August, 2007, (AP)
Harvey Weinstein and Donna Karan. August, 2007, (AP) (AP)

As the grim scope of the allegations surrounding Harvey Weinstein continued to expand on Wednesday, the organization that bestows the Academy Awards moved to distance itself from the film mogul, Ben Affleck was forced to defend his own previous actions, and scrutiny fell on who knew what about the Weinstein's behavior over the decades it allegedly took place.

A key and potentially volatile component of Tuesday's New Yorker expose was the claim that "a culture of complicity" has existed at both The Weinstein Co. and his previous film company, the Walt Disney-owned Miramax. "Numerous people throughout the companies [were] fully aware of his behavior but either abetting it or looking the other way," the magazine reported.

TRT World's Kate Fisher reports.

Further scrutiny has followed the contention that Weinstein's conduct was "an open secret" in Hollywood. Focus has turned, in part, to not just the workplace environments Weinstein operated in, but the stars who may have had some knowledge of Weinstein's alleged behavior but who failed to raise any alarms.

Ben Affleck was called out on Tuesday by actress Rose McGowan. In a tweet, McGowan accused Affleck of lying after issuing a statement that he was "saddened and angry" about the Weinstein revelations. McGowan, who The New York Times reported reached a $100,000 settlement with Weinstein in 1997, suggested Affleck knew decades ago about Weinstein's behavior.

Actress Hilarie Burton also renewed an earlier allegation that Affleck groped her during a visit to MTV's TRL, which she was hosting in 2003. Affleck on Wednesday tweeted an apology, "I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize."

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also announced on Wednesday that its Board of Governors will hold a special meeting on Saturday to discuss the allegations "and any actions warranted by the academy."

Weinstein has long been a major figure at the Academy Awards, where his films have regularly won Oscars, including five best picture winners. Weinstein personally shared in the best-picture Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. The film academy called Weinstein's alleged conduct "repugnant" and "antithetical to the high standards of the Academy and the creative community it represents."

Three women accused Weinstein of raping them, The New Yorker reported on Tuesday, including the Italian actress and filmmaker Asia Argento and a woman, Lucia Evans, who was an aspiring actress in college when he allegedly sexually assaulted her at Miramax's Manhattan offices in 2004. The magazine also cited a third, unnamed accuser. A growing number of actresses, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Rosanna Arquette, have also made allegations of sexual harassment.

"Any allegations of non-consensual contact are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein," Weinstein representative Sallie Hofmeister said on Wednesday. "Mr Weinstein is taking the time to focus on his family, on getting counseling and rebuilding his life. These are his top priorities."

More women continue to come forward. On Wednesday, both French actress Lea Seydoux and model and actress Cara Delevingne said they had been sexually harassed by Weinstein.

"We were talking on the sofa when he suddenly jumped on me and tried to kiss me," Seydoux wrote for the Guardian. "I had to defend myself. He's big and fat, so I had to be forceful to resist him. I left his room, thoroughly disgusted. I wasn't afraid of him, though. Because I knew what kind of man he was all along.

"Everyone could see what he was doing," Seydoux continued, saying she had witnessed other incidents.

"That's the most disgusting thing," wrote Seydoux. "Everyone knew what Harvey was up to and no one did anything. It's unbelievable that he's been able to act like this for decades and still keep his career. That's only possible because he has a huge amount of power."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies