The actress Rose McGowan on Wednesday sued Harvey Weinstein and the lawyers David Boies and Lisa Bloom, accusing them of directing a campaign of covert and illegal measures meant to discredit her and prevent her from going public with her rape accusation against him.
The lawsuit includes Ms. McGowan’s account of attempts to interfere with her plan to publish a memoir, “Brave,” including sending an undercover agent to befriend her and then steal a copy of the manuscript. It also describes efforts to derail the reporting by The New York Times and The New Yorker that ultimately exposed decades of accusations against Mr. Weinstein and helped ignite the #MeToo movement.
The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Los Angeles, said that Mr. Weinstein tapped into a team of professionals whose goal was to “ensure that Ms. McGowan’s story never saw the light of day, and — if it did — that no one would believe her.”
Besides Mr. Weinstein, Mr. Boies and Ms. Bloom, the lawsuit names the lawyers’ firms as defendants, as well as Black Cube, a private intelligence firm that used undercover agents to approach women who had accused Mr. Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
In her lawsuit, Ms. McGowan, 46, accused Mr. Weinstein of raping her at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997. She reached a $100,000 settlement with Mr. Weinstein that year. Since 2017, when The New York Times and The New Yorker published their first articles, Ms. McGowan has been vocal in her support of women who stepped forward to accuse the producer of sexually harassing them or worse. Mr. Weinstein has been criminally charged in Manhattan with sexually assaulting two women and has pleaded not guilty.
In a statement on Wednesday, Phyllis Kupferstein, a lawyer for Mr. Weinstein, said that “Rose McGowan will be shown to be what she is: a publicity seeker looking for money.”
Ms. McGowan’s lawsuit says Mr. Weinstein offered her $1 million to stay quiet and drop the publication of her book. Ms. Kupferstein said Ms. McGowan asked for $6 million.
“From the moment she sought a multimillion dollar payout in return for not making these baseless allegations, which we rejected, we knew that she was waiting for an opportune time to begin this,” Ms. Kupferstein’s statement said. “We will demonstrate that this case has no legal merit.”
Ms. Bloom has said she made a mistake in agreeing to work for Mr. Weinstein in 2016 and 2017, but has refused to comment on the specific role she played, citing attorney-client privilege. Mr. Boies has defended his work for Mr. Weinstein, which stretched from 2002 to 2017, saying the only thing he would have done differently was to more closely monitor Mr. Weinstein’s use of the firm Black Cube.
Edward Evans, a spokesman for Mr. Boies’s firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, said in a statement that the “progress of the #MeToo movement is essential” but that Ms. McGowan’s lawsuit “inappropriately includes our firm and we have no choice but to defend ourselves against allegations that are simply untrue.”
A lawyer for Ms. Bloom, Eric George, said in a statement that it was “inexcusable” that Ms. McGowan included Ms. Bloom as a defendant. “There is simply no credible factual or legal basis for her claims against my client,” he said.
Representatives for Black Cube did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
More than a year before the first articles appeared, Ms. McGowan made it publicly known that she was writing a memoir and in Hollywood, it was widely rumored that the book would include accusations against Mr. Weinstein. According to the lawsuit, that is when Mr. Weinstein and his lawyers began springing into action.
In late 2016, Mr. Weinstein hired Black Cube, a private investigative firm founded by former Israeli intelligence officials, to help him, a contract that was executed by Mr. Boies’s firm. In 2017, the suit says, an undercover agent employed by Black Cube started posing as an executive from a London-based wealth management firm interested in paying Ms. McGowan for speaking engagements related to women’s rights. The undercover agent gained Ms. McGowan’s trust and then covertly recorded Ms. McGowan reading the agent excerpts from her book, which the firm later shared with Mr. Weinstein and his lawyers, the lawsuit said. Ms. McGowan said she believes the agent stole her unpublished manuscript during a meeting between the two during which the agent had access to her laptop.
According to the lawsuit, a British freelance journalist working for Black Cube was directed to interview Ms. McGowan under the guise of writing a story about men in Hollywood, when he was actually trying to glean information about the memoir she was writing. Ms. McGowan’s book was published in January 2018, and in it she described the alleged rape by Mr. Weinstein in detail.
The lawsuit bases some of its factual allegations on reporting in the recently published books “She Said,” by the Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, as well as “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow, the New Yorker writer. The three shared in the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for public service for their reporting. Mr. Farrow has extensively reported on Black Cube’s work and “She Said” describes Mr. Boies’s work for Mr. Weinstein and how Ms. Bloom, a prominent victims’ rights attorney, was working behind the scenes with the producer to thwart his accusers and quash the journalists’ investigation.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of racketeering, fraudulent deceit, and inflicting emotional distress. It said Mr. Weinstein and his team engaged in a “diabolical and illegal” effort to silence Ms. McGowan that had negative impacts on her life.
“Her book sales suffered; her expenses mounted; her job opportunities vanished; and her emotional health cratered,” the lawsuit said. “She has experienced trauma and depression from defendants’ actions, and the deep betrayal will have lifelong effects.”