One of the jurors in disgraced Hollywood producer convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 trial has since been accused of being a rapist himself.
That juror, Steven Brecher, 55, used to be the CEO of Branca USA, a subsidiary of Fratelli Branca, a distillery based in Italy. During his time as CEO, he allegedly raped two employees, according to a lawsuit filed last week against Fratelli Branca.
“The women, who are not publicly identified, each claim their separate assaults first occurred when they had drinks with [Brecher] and quickly blacked out,” the New York Post reported Friday, citing the suit.
The first victim, a 29-year-old Pennsylvania woman identified as Jane Doe 1, reportedly “handled Branca USA’s market in the state.”
“Jane Doe 1, 29, was engaged and had just bought her wedding dress when she and the married Brecher met to check out bars and restaurants stocking Branca products. She blacked out after leaving their third stop, waking up naked next to Brecher in a strange hotel room, physically ill and bleeding from her anus, she alleges in court papers. Jane Doe 1 said she feared losing her job if she reported the incident,” according to the Post.
“The woman claims a similar incident happened two months later, when she traveled to New York for a company event, had drinks, and took a cab back to her hotel, only to have Brecher follow her into the vehicle. ‘Her next memory is waking up naked and confused in his Upper East Side apartment.'”
Brecher can be seen in the following video that was uploaded to YouTube in late 2019:
Months later, Brecher’s unnamed executive assistant, who according to the Post was known as “his Ghislaine Maxwell,” began “grooming” another victim.
“Brecher allegedly invited the 27-year-old woman for drinks with the assistant in another Branca exec’s office. The assistant slipped out, and the woman said she blacked out, only to have Brecher tell her that if she filed a complaint, ‘You know Milan would shut this company down.’ The assistant, who is not identified in court papers, texted both women, downplaying Brecher’s behavior,” according to the Post.
Afterward, both victims reportedly “started talking” and “realized they had similar experiences with the CEO … especially when they learned that he had accused both of them of roofying him, when they woke up next to him with no memory of the night before.”
Branca reportedly eventually terminated Brecher, but only after ignoring multiple complaints about his behavior.
“In my 17 years of practicing employment law, I’ve never heard of conduct this egregious in the workplace,” the victims’ attorney, Orit Goldring, reportedly said.
What makes Brecher’s behavior particularly remarkable is his role in Weinstein’s trial.
The lawsuit notes that following the trial, he shamelessly bragged to his victims that he’d “singlehandedly delivered” the guilty verdict.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) March 11, 2020
According to the lawsuit, Brecher told one of his two victims “that he saw women on the subway reading about the Weinstein verdict with tears in their eyes, thinking about their own sexual abuse, and that they had him to thank for singlehandedly delivering that verdict.”
Note that despite his behavior, the women’s lawsuit targets Branca, not him, meaning, it would appear, that he’s essentially being let off the hook. Unless of course the victims also reported their allegations to the police. It’s unclear if they did.
If these allegations are true, they would suggest that Brecher is virtually no different than Weinstein, who’s infamous for having used his power and influence in Hollywood to take advantage of and sexually assault vulnerable women.
One of his victims was former waitress and aspiring actress Dawn Dunning, whom he met in 2014.
“After initially meeting Weinstein at a nightclub in the Meatpacking District in New York City where she worked as a cocktail waitress, Dunning said Weinstein offered to help her with her acting career, so he called for a meeting in a hotel room. Dunning said she had no reason to believe the meeting would be anything but business-related. Weinstein lured her into a bedroom at the boutique hotel in Soho, Dunning said on the stand, to discuss possible roles she might play in upcoming films for Miramax, the indie label that Weinstein ran at the time,” as reported by Variety magazine.
“Dunning said when she arrived to the hotel suite, about five staff members from Miramax were working on the laptops in the hotel room, so it seemed like a professional setting. Weinstein took Dunning into a separate bedroom in the suite, closed the door nearly all the way and sat down on the bed next to her to have a professional conversation, which Dunning said was not sexual in any way. ‘There were no red flags or alerts or anything that would make me expect this to happen,’ she said.”
But as they were sitting there, Weinstein suddenly reportedly slid his hand up her leg and inserted it into her vagina.
“His hand went under my underwear. He was trying to put it in my vagina. … I stood up. I was shocked. I just wasn’t expecting that to happen. He just started talking really fast like, ‘It’s not a big deal, don’t make a big deal out of this.’ He said it wouldn’t happen again,” she testified in 2020.
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