Jill Messick, the ex-manager of Rose McGowan who got caught up in McGowan's toxic struggle with accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, killed herself Wednesday. Her family blames McGowan, Weinstein and "sensationalistic" media, in a statement issued Thursday.
Messick, 50, was a veteran studio executive and producer and the mother of two children. She also had battled bipolar disorder and depression — her "nemesis," according to her family — for years.
She was McGowan's manager in 1997 when McGowan claimed she was raped by Weinstein during the Sundance Film Festival. In October, McGowan became one of the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct, thus setting off an avalanche of accusations against Weinstein and other powerful figures in Hollywood.
Messick's name was dragged into the scandal headlines on Jan. 30, when Weinstein's attorney, Ben Brafman, released an email attributed to Messick — but without her consent — in which she seemed to defend Weinstein's argument that his encounter with McGowan was consensual.
In Messick's family's statement, they describe her as a supporter of the Me Too movement, who was "broken" by seeing her name in the headlines surrounding the McGowan/Weinstein battle.
Weinstein's lawyers quoted from an email from Messick to defend him last month. The email said that McGowan told Messick she consensually got into a hot tub with Weinstein and later regretted it. Weinstein has denied the rape allegations.
The family said Messick believed she had been slandered by McGowan, but chose not to come forward and defend herself for fear of undermining other women from coming forward on the issue.
"She opted not to add to the feeding frenzy, allowing her name and her reputation to be sullied despite having done nothing wrong," the statement said, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which published it in full.
But she suffered nonetheless in silence, the family said.
"Seeing her name in headlines again and again ... along with Harvey's desperate attempt to vindicate himself, was devastating for her," the statement said.
It was especially painful, the family's statement said, that the headlines came just as Messick was rebounding after a manic episode five years earlier.
"It broke Jill, who was just starting to get her life back on track."
Her family believes Messick also was victimized by a new media culture focused on speed, unlimited information sharing and "a willingness to accept a statement as fact" without further checking.
As a result, "mistruths" about Messick were spread and she was unable and unwilling to challenge them, the family said.
"She became collateral damage in an already horrific story."
Messick was an executive producer at Miramax from 1997 to 2003, and worked on films including Masterminds and Frida and the TV series Bad Judge. Her most recent film project is the upcoming adaptation of Minecraft with Steve Carell.
Representatives for Weinstein and McGowan did not return requests for comment from USA TODAY.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.