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Harvey Weinstein's 'forgotten man' comments anger accusers

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New York (AFP)

Harvey Weinstein's accusers hit back at the disgraced Hollywood mogul Monday after he complained that the world had forgotten how he "pioneered" women-led films following dozens of sex-crime allegations.

The once powerful producer, whose case sparked the #MeToo movement, gave a rare interview just three weeks before the start of a criminal trial that could see him jailed for life.

Weinstein, 67, told the New York Post tabloid, speaking in a hospital following a back operation, that he felt "like the forgotten man."

"I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker and I'm talking about 30 years ago," said the producer of "Shakespeare in Love" and "Pulp Fiction."

"I'm not talking about now when it's vogue. I did it first! I pioneered it! It all got eviscerated because of what happened," he added.

Twenty-three women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, said the comments were an attempt to "gaslight society again."

"He says in a new interview he doesn't want to be forgotten. Well, he won't be," they said in a statement posted on the Time's Up Twitter page.

"He will be remembered as a sexual predator and an unrepentant abuser who took everything and deserves nothing.

"He will be remembered by the collective will of countless women who stood up and said enough," they added.

Weinstein's comments came after he reached a $25 million settlement last week to be shared among more than 30 actresses and former employees who have sued him for offenses ranging from sexual harassment to rape.

Weinstein will not have to admit wrongdoing or pay from his own pocket, according to news portal TMZ. Instead the bill will be met by insurers for his bankrupt former movie studio, The Weinstein Company.

- 'Stunt' -

Weinstein's accusers include some of the world's most famous actresses -- including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek -- although none is part of the proceedings.

Weinstein has always insisted his sexual relationships were consensual and has pleaded not guilty to five charges of sexual assault relating to two women.

One of the women alleges Weinstein raped her in 2013, while the other claims he forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006.

His trial is scheduled to start on January 6, 2020.

Lawyer Douglas Wigdor, who represents three of Weinstein's alleged victims, said the producer's cinematic accomplishments had rightly been overshadowed "by his horrific actions."

"Mr. Weinstein's latest public relations stunt on the eve of his criminal trial provides even more motivation to continue to prosecute the claims that will expose him for who he is," he said in a statement emailed to AFP.

Joseph Cabosky, a professor of public relations at the University of North Carolina, called Weinstein's interview "terrible."

"You have a right to tell your own story. But, if the best case scenario is you seem like a jerk who seems to have learned nothing but might be innocent, it might be best just to shut up," he said.

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