Harvey Weinstein arrives in court in New York. File picture: Mark Lennihan/AP

London - Harvey Weinstein’s former assistant has revealed that she twice attempted suicide after the disgraced film mogul allegedly tried to rape her.

Rowena Chiu, who is British-Chinese, said she was left living in ‘constant fear’ of Weinstein’s ‘abuse, control and power’ after the alleged assault 21 years ago.

She said: ‘Harvey Weinstein told me he liked Chinese girls. He liked them because they were discreet, he said – because they knew how to keep a secret. Hours later, he attempted to rape me.’

Miss Chiu, now 45, claimed the attack happened at a late-night meeting at the Venice Film Festival in 1998 but she later felt forced to sign a gagging order – meaning she could not even tell her husband.

‘After hours of fending off his chitchat, flattery, requests for massages and a bath, ultimately I found myself pushed back against the bed,’ she wrote in The New York Times.

‘I’d worn two pairs of tights for protection, and tried to appease him by taking one of them off and letting him massage me, but it hadn’t worked.

‘He’d taken off the other pair and I was terrified my underwear would be next. Harvey moved in, “Please,” he told me, “just one thrust, and it will all be over”.’ She said she tried to fend him off by asking him to return to discussing scripts – and telling him she had a boyfriend.

Eventually, she managed to ‘wriggle off the bed and leave’, because ‘Harvey thought there would be another night to play the game and half the fun was the chase’. Yesterday Weinstein’s lawyer claimed her allegations were false.

Miss Chiu, who was born in Greater London and graduated from Oxford in 1998, claimed that she was left haunted by the ordeal for almost two decades after signing a gagging order under ‘extreme duress’.

She said she shared her experience with another of Weinstein’s assistants and they both felt pressured to sign the non-disclosure agreements.

‘We were once kept at the office overnight, from 5pm to 5am, escorted to the bathroom, provided with the barest minimum of food and drink and not permitted pen and paper to keep notes,’ she wrote. ‘We were not even allowed to keep a copy of this most egregious of agreements.’ After signing it, she received a settlement of £125,000. She said she thought it would be easy to find another job, but was instead left ‘miserable’ and driven to two suicide attempts.

After quitting Miramax, Weinstein’s movie studio, she ‘spent decades grappling with guilt’. She wrote: ‘I lived in constant fear of Harvey’s abuse, control and power… that I would inadvertently slip up on my promise to never speak of this. I suffered, completely isolated from those around me who could have provided the support I needed: a loved one, a trusted pastor, a respected therapist – even the man I would marry.’

Miss Chiu, a mother of four, speaks publicly for the first time of the alleged assault in the book She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement. It was written by journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, who appeared on TV with her.

Also on the programme was actress Ashley Judd, who claims Weinstein sexually harassed her. In January a court in California dismissed this claim, but a judge said she could still pursue a defamation claim against him. Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, said Miss Chiu’s allegations are all false, along with many of the book’s other claims. ‘This book contains one-sided allegations without having adequately investigated the facts of each situation,’ she said.

Miss Rotunno claimed Weinstein and Miss Chiu had ‘a six-month physical relationship’, to which Miss Chiu consented. She said he was ‘now studying taking legal action’ after Miss Chiu broke her gagging order.

More than 80 women have come forward to accuse Weinstein since the first allegations were revealed in 2017.

Weinstein, 67, has denied all accusations of non-consensual sex. He is due to stand trial next January on two counts of predatory sexual assault.

Daily Mail