After Oprah Winfrey’s March 7 interview with Prince Harry and Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, an image went viral on Facebook alleging that Winfrey “pimped young Hollywood girls” to be “raped” by Hollywood mogul and convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein.
The full text of the image, which shows Winfrey, Weinstein, and singer Rita Ora at a 2014 BAFTA after party, reads as follows: “I think now is an excellent time to remind everyone that Oprah Winfrey for years and years pimped young Hollywood girls to Harvey Weinstein to be raped.”
This is a false claim.
This isn’t the first time Winfrey has been accused of sex trafficking. In March 2020, the Guardian reported that there were online rumors making reference to Winfrey’s friendship with Weinstein and claiming that Winfrey was arrested for sex trafficking after her Florida home was raided by the police. As these claims about her alleged arrest cropped up on social media, Winfrey took to Twitter to dispel the rumors, calling it an “awful fake thing.”
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, also responded to the allegations on Twitter, calling the rumor “disgusting.”
The rumor purportedly has its roots in conspiracy theory QAnon, according to the Washington Post.
Accusations about the ties between Winfrey and Weinstein date further back than 2020 but do not provide any evidence for the claim that Winfrey was involved in sex trafficking for Weinstein.
In January 2018, for example, the musician Seal accused Winfrey of knowing about Weinstein’s crimes for “decades”, per Huffpost. In a now deleted Instagram post, which showed photos of Winfrey and Weinstein, according to Huffpost, Seal wrote: “Oh I forgot, that’s right…..you’d heard the rumors but you had no idea he was actually serially assaulting young stary-eyed [sic] actresses who in turn had no idea what they were getting into. My bad.”
That same month, in a Facebook video from January 11, Seal took back his accusation, explaining that his post “was not an attack on Oprah at all, she just happened to be the person photographed with the pig in the picture.” He continued by saying that the post was “commentary on the hypocritical and double standard nature and behavior of Hollywood.”
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