In first interview, Stella Penn Pechanac tells Channel 12 that while working for intelligence firm Black Cube she was simply trying to find out the truth
07 June 2019 | TOI Staff | The Times of Israel
The operative who duped at least one of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers in a bid to quash the sexual assault allegations against the now-disgraced Hollywood producer has spoken publicly for the first time, saying she was just trying to uncover the truth.
Israel’s Channel 12 on Friday broadcast excerpts from an interview with Stella Penn Pechanac, a former employee of Black Cube, the private Israeli intelligence firm that Weinstein hired to suppress allegations he sexually assaulted and harassed dozens of women.
In the interview, Pechanac was asked if she felt comfortable deceiving an alleged sexual assault victim on behalf of an abuser.
“I didn’t only go to her, I always feel comfortable when I am approaching people in order to try and discover the truth,” she said. “My aim was to discover if someone was running a negative campaign against Weinstein, and if so, who was behind it.”
She also noted that at the time, the many allegations against Weinstein had not yet come out.
“At the time he was really not a monster. He was not the man we know him to be today,” she said.
Former prime minister Ehud Barak has admitted to making the connection between Weinstein and Black Cube, though he has said he did not know why Weinstein was interested in the company’s services.
“When a former prime minister connects you to a very powerful man who looks you in the eye and says that ‘There is nothing to these accusations, I am under attack and need your help’ — so I went out to find out the truth,” she said.
The New Yorker revealed that Weinstein employed Black Cube for $1.3 million in order stop the publication of the abuse allegations against him.
The report said that during the one-year period the Tel Aviv-based firm worked for Weinstein, Black Cube agents targeted dozens of individuals to collect personal information about them, including their sexual histories, in a bid to prevent them from publicly accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault.
More than 15 lawsuits have been filed accusing Weinstein for misconduct. Weinstein also faces criminal charges in New York of rape and performing a forcible sex act. His trial is scheduled to begin in September.
Weinstein denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
According to previous reports, during her meeting with McGown, Pechanac claimed to work for a London-based firm named Rueben Capital Partners. The bogus firm billed itself as “one of the UK’s most prominent providers of investment management services to wealthy individuals, foundations and charities,” according to a cached version of its website that appears to have been taken offline.
The now-defunct site also had a section dedicated to “Women in Focus,” an initiative ostensibly dedicated to “combating all forms of discrimination against women in the workplace, but also work towards promoting the inclusion of women in business — actively and at all levels.”