Right after Paula Williams came forward with her story accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct in 1990, the former model said she quickly scrubbed up her social media accounts.
“I didn’t want to be known as the girl who [came forward about] Weinstein,” she told TheWrap. “That’s not what I want to say. There are so many other things I’d rather say publicly”
She added, “It was a little like, ‘Oh, oh, did I say too much?’”
Williams came forward to ABC’s “20/20” about a week after the New York Times and The New Yorker published their exposés on multiple accusations of sexual misconduct by the Hollywood mogul over decades.
She was a 19-year-old model looking to break into the industry when, she said, she met Weinstein at a Spago pre-Oscar party in 1990. Weinstein was the toast of Hollywood with his indie film, “sex, lies, and videotape,” up for Best Original Screenplay.
A week later, she said, Weinstein invited her to a dinner party in the Hollywood Hills — but when she arrived, Weinstein was the only one there.
“It gets uncomfortable real quick and he exposes himself one glass of champagne in, and I ended up running out of there,” Williams said. “I was worried that he was going to follow me because I was on foot… I started going through yards and stuff, just in case he got in his car and wanted to follow me.” (Weinstein did not respond to Williams’ accusations.)
Williams, who became a commercial and television producer, lives in Seattle, Washington. She is currently on a sabbatical and is working a documentary on the the Women’s March.
What happened after the “20/20” interview?
I was almost like on a high after because it felt so good to bond with other women on this, and then it started unraveling real fast… It was almost scary how fast names were coming out and people were going down, and so then I started getting nervous because I was like, “Are we swinging too far? And are we condemning everyone now?” Since this all broke I went from being real confident about it and now second guessing it.
Because you’re not always welcome now… Just looking for a job, people are like, “Oh, she sold out Harvey Weinstein and maybe we don’t want to deal with anyone like that.”
Do you regret coming forward?
I’ll never regret it because the great thing about it is that we can talk about it and it’s normal and now all companies are having sexual harassment meetings in all industries. But I even have close friends that I could tell were rolling their eyes at my story, and they were like, “Yeah this happens to us in the industry and why are you special?” Good friends of mine thought I was doing it for attention or for money… It broke my heart because it was so hard to do.
Were you surprised by their reaction?
Yeah… In the beginning I thought we were all together and it’s not like that… There are still women who haven’t come out that I know that they have the same story about Harvey Weinstein and they would just rather not [come forward]. They’re mothers, they have different careers now… And I gotta respect that.
Immediately [after the interview I] cleaned my Facebook and my social media. I didn’t want to be known as the girl who [came forward about] Weinstein. That’s not what I want to say. There are so many other things I’d rather say publicly. I did kind of backtrack after that… I was hoping maybe no one would notice. It was a little like, “Oh, oh, did I say too much?’
Were there any particularly difficult moments in the last few months?
Every once in a while someone will pity me, and I’m like, “No! Please! I don’t want to be a victim.” I really tried my best not to be a victim because no one wants to be a victim. It’s not pretty, it’s not cool. It’s not powerful. I don’t want to be whiny and I don’t want to dilute the conversation by being that… It’s definitely like opening Pandora’s Box… I just think we have some fancy footwork to do, and I really just hope we don’t lose the conversation.
The New York Times reported last month that Asia Argento, one of #MeToo’s most prominent figures, made hush money payments to actor Jimmy Bennett after he accused her of sexual assault. How did you feel about that?
I’m mad at her for not coming out with this on in the first place, on her own. It would have been so different… she’s so brave. That’s what we loved about her. I’m pissed.
Some have cautioned not to rush to judgment in this case. Do you agree?
I had to catch myself doing that too. But it has to go both ways. You can’t say one is OK and the other one isn’t. I do wish she would have come out with it so that we could have had a conversation about it. It looks so bad. I think it discredits the movement, I really do. It’s not good. I think people were waiting for this and this could unravel.
How do think the #MeToo movement is doing almost a year later?
Honestly, I’m just kind of turned off by all the drama within the movement. It’s too exhausting trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not. I’m just trying to stay focused on moving the movement forward.