ACTRESS Ashley Judd says she stands by her story after a Hollywood mega-producer claimed he "never laid a hand on her" and that she is "going through a tough time" after she made sexual allegations against him.
The sex scandal involving Harvey Weinstein - accused by "dozens" of current and former employees of inappropriate sexual behaviour - is barging through Tinseltown like a train derailing; an out of control mess of twisted stories and blame games.
As the chips start to fall for the once legendary mega-producer, the most powerful of the glitterati are banding together in what is fast becoming one of the biggest scandals in recent Hollywood history.
In just hours, the story has already seen twists and turns that could be ripped straight out of a movie script.
Weinstein is the co-chairman of The Weinstein Company and co-founder of Miramax Films. The companies produced favourites including My Week with Marilyn, starring Michelle Williams, the Scream franchise, Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare in Love.
He's scooped six best-picture Oscars while and his career has spanned from movies to television; Project Runway is his most popular reality-hit.
His public life includes humanitarian work with a range of charities, he's supported Hillary Clinton and employed Malia Obama as an intern. He even marched in a women's march at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
But with actor Ashley Judd leading the battle along with a line-up of other famous faces and former employees, it has forced the Oscar-winner to take a leave of absence from his own company just hours after the New York Times published its salacious expose.
"How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?" Judd wrote, explaining her thought process when Mr Weinstein appeared before her in just a bathrobe at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel. He proceeded to ask her if he could give her a massage, or perhaps she could watch him shower.
At the time the young actor was filming the 1997 movie, Kiss the Girls, a thriller which she appeared alongside Morgan Freeman.
The Times uses a memo written by a former staffer, who kept a meticulous account of events. She reports the Peninsula was typically Weinstein's stomping ground; he invited employees with promises to boost their career. An assistant was once left "crying and very distraught" after Mr Weinstein allegedly "badgered her into giving him a massage while he was naked".
"Women have been talking about Harvey among ourselves for a long time, and it's simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly," Judd said, according to the Times.
Since the story broke overnight, many have tweeted their own claims; it's old news, there have been rumours swirling around for years, they say. The story has been boiling and bubbling for months yet the rumours have circled for decades before. Judd had previously told Variety in 2015 that she was sexually harassed by a studio executive, but had not mentioned any names.
"A story everyone in media has heard about but most have had trouble nailing," wrote Buzzfeed reporter Shani Hilton.
"Harvey Weinstein is merely the latest of many, many, many reminders that Hollywood isn't actually a progressive industry," tweeted The Washington Post's Alyssa Rosenberg.
The Times tackled three decades of undisclosed allegations against Weinstein, interviewing current and former employees, film industry insiders and scouring pages upon pages of legal records, emails and internal files from his business, Miramix and the Weinstein company.
The Times notes two anonymous company sources who confirmed Mr Weinstein reached at least eight settlements with various women; assistants, actresses and models. It is believed one of those was with actor Rose McGowan in 1997 when she was 23.
In a statement to The Times he said he was "trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go" and is working with therapists to "deal with this issue head on."
He told CNNMoney: "I came of age in the '60s and '70s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different. That was the culture then. I have since learned it's not an excuse, in the office - or out of it."
"I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt and I plan to do right by all of them."
Yet in a strange twist, a lawyer representing Mr Weinstein, famed women's rights lawyer Lisa Bloom, told The Times "he denies many of the accusations as patently false."
In an interview with Page Six he blasted Judd, claiming "I never laid a glove on her".
"I know Ashley Judd is going through a tough time right now, I read her book [her memoir All That Is Bitter and Sweet ], in which she talks about being the victim of sexual abuse and depression as a child. Her life story was brutal, and I have to respect her. In a year from now I am going to reach out to her."
In an interview with the New York Post after the scandal broke, Mr Weinstein claimed the despite the fact he "bears responsibility" for his reckless behaviour, he confirmed he had hired another lawyer, Charles Harder, who famously fought - and won - Hulk Hogan's $140 million settlement against Gawker, and planned to sure The Times.
"What I am saying is that I bear responsibility for my actions, but the reason I am suing is because of The Times' inability to be honest with me, and their reckless reporting. They told me lies. They made assumptions," Mr Weinstein said.
According to producers inside of Tinseltown, they're shocked it's taken so long for the scandal to break. For them, Harvey Weinstein's sexually charged behaviour was "one of the most open secrets in Hollywood".
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.