Between the publication of the New York Times’ and New Yorker’s exposés revealing decades of sexual harassment and assault accusations surrounding Harvey Weinstein, Fox News reporter Lauren Sivan told her own story involving the producer, claiming he physically cornered her and then masturbated in front of her into a potted plant at New York’s Socialista restaurant in 2007. When Sivan came forward with this accusation, a friend vouched for her story to the Huffington Post. Now, former owner of Socialista Armin Amiri told The Hollywood Reporter he did know something shady happened that night, and that Weinstein’s legal team asked him to vouch for the ex-mogul and say he didn’t see anything.
“What I remember about this incident is that my sous chef came into my office, furious, telling me that ‘some fat fuck’ saying he’s an owner — he didn’t know the name — had come into the kitchen with a woman and shoved a $100 bill at him and told him to get out,” Amiri told THR. “It was like 1:30 in the morning and he’d been the only one still there. The chef told me he was going to quit.” Later, Amiri said he saw Weinstein fix his belt behind the bar, but couldn’t see that there was a woman with him. While Sivan said Weinstein masturbated into a potted plant, Amiri recalls that he’d actually done it into a pot: When the chef picked up a pot placed on the stove, “It had been defiled,” Amiri recalled. “It was so bizarre. We couldn’t believe it happened.” After Sivan spoke to the Huffington Post, Amiri said Weinstein asked him to give a statement about Socialista, and Amiri agreed. When Weinstein’s lawyers later asked him to say that he didn’t see anything happen that night, Amiri told THR, “I couldn’t make a statement absolving him because when [Sivan] came forward, my memory clicked.”