The man tapped by California's attorney general to be his agency's first diversity and inclusion chief says victims of serial rapist Harvey Weinstein knew what they were doing when they had sex with him, that he sympathized with Bill Cosby during his rape trial, and that innocent men need to be sacrificed for the sake of the #MeToo movement.
The state's new diversity, equity, and inclusion guru Kevin E. Hooks said that the women who came forward to say they were forced to have sex with Weinstein were willfully choosing to trade sex for job opportunities in the film industry. "I want to have an uncomfortable conversation," Hooks said on a Sept. 2018 episode of his CEOLife podcast. "If you call my sister, or my niece, or some of the women I grew up with, up to a hotel suite to have a 'business meeting,' and you open the door in a bathrobe, it's not not going to end like some of these ended."
Hooks, who on Jan. 17 was tapped to serve as the California Justice Department's first-ever chief diversity and inclusion officer, said Weinstein's victims chose to subject themselves to the disgraced Hollywood producer's assaults.
"What's the psychology," Hooks said, "that separates a women's Spidey-Senses from going, 'I'm not going in there,' to [doing] the cost-benefit analysis of, 'But this is my opportunity to get a job, and I've been in this industry for 20 years, toiling away, waiting tables on the side, and I finally get an invitation to Mecca.'"
Hooks's comments could put him at odds with his new employer. California attorney general Rob Bonta's (D.) website unequivocally states that "sexual violence derives from unequal power relationships, and is one of the most common violations of people's rights." Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.) has called the #MeToo movement "a profound opportunity to address deeper issues."
Hooks did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the California Department of Justice said the agency will review Hooks's comments but is "unable to comment on a potential or ongoing personnel issue."
Hooks insisted that he was not "blaming" Weinstein's victims, but nonetheless questioned the motives of those who agreed to meet privately with the former Hollywood mogul, who is serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape. "I want to know what makes a woman—my sister, who would've probably, she'd have punched him and kicked him and left—versus, you know, some of the women that are listed, the Ashley Judds of the world, that dealt with his crazy, and then were assaulted by this guy."
Over 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including California "first partner" Jennifer Siebel Newsom. The acress Rose McGowan claimed Siebel Newsom contacted her on behalf of Democratic superlawyer David Boies in 2017, in a bid to get McGowan to stop working with the New York Times on a Weinstein expose.
A former Los Angeles marketing executive, Hooks ran the Las Vegas-Clark County Urban League before pivoting to corporate DEI consulting with his own firm, CEOLIFE Unplugged. The Las Vegas Urban League hosted his podcast on its YouTube channel.
Weinstein was not the only sex pest Hooks spoke out in support of. At another point in the podcast, Hooks pushed back on a guest's argument that comedian Bill Cosby should spend the rest of his life in prison.
"You don't feel sorry for him, that he's blind?" Hooks says, referring to Cosby's claim in 2017 that he had gone blind, which many saw as a bid for sympathy during his trial. "So he can't really sexually harass nobody now because he can't see them coming," Hooks said, laughingly adding that "he can't slip the thing in the drink because he'd miss the drink!"
Hooks, who says he wants to "cultivate a more inclusive environment" through his work at the Justice Department, also claimed on the podcast that it was good for innocent men to be accused of sexual assault.
"I'm on record as saying, there's going to be some innocent men who fall in the MeToo movement, but rightfully so," Hooks said, "because so many years we spent ignoring the claims and allegations and challenges that women face in the workplace."
As Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Hooks is responsible for "cultivating a work environment that values the differences, talents, and abilities of all employees."