Sunday 24 February 2019

US judge throws out Judd's sexual harassment claim against Weinstein

Actress Ashley Judd. Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Actress Ashley Judd. Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Jill Serjeant

A federal judge in Los Angeles has dismissed actress Ashley Judd's sexual harassment claim against movie producer Harvey Weinstein but said she could proceed with a defamation claim against him.

Judd had accused Weinstein of defaming her in 1998 after she refused what she said were his sexual advances a year earlier.

In her lawsuit, filed in April 2018, the 'Double Jeopardy' actress accused Weinstein of smearing her reputation by discouraging director Peter Jackson from casting her in his blockbuster movie franchise 'The Lord of the Rings'.

Judd, one of the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct, had accused the Hollywood movie mogul of sexual harassment in violation of a California law barring such conduct by a person in a "business, service or professional relationship" with another.

In a footnote to his ruling, US District Judge Philip Gutierrez said he was not determining whether Judd was sexually harassed by Weinstein "in the colloquial sense of the term".

But Gutierrez said Judd's relationship as an actress with the film producer was not covered under the California statute she had sued under, nor under a 2019 amendment.

"We have said from the beginning this claim was unjustified, and we are pleased the court saw it as we did. We believe we will ultimately prevail on her remaining claims," Weinstein's lawyer, Phyllis Kupferstein, said.

But Judd's attorney, Theodore Boutrous Jr, said the ruling does not upend Judd's complaint. "Nothing about today's ruling changes that Ms Judd's case is moving forward on multiple claims."

Weinstein is to stand trial in May in New York on five charges, including rape, involving two other women.

The disgraced Hollywood producer of movies including 'Shakespeare in Love' has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 70 women. He has denied the accusations, saying any sexual encounters were consensual.

Irish Independent

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