Harvey Weinstein plunges to new low in defense against Ashley Judd lawsuit

Harvey Weinstein leaves court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., June 5, 2018. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

In a new act of brazen shamelessness, disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has moved to dismiss a lawsuit filed by actress Ashley Judd, who has said that Weinstein defamed her and ruined her career in retaliation for turning down his advances, by claiming that he made a “bargain” with her that he could touch her if she “won an Academy Award in one of his films.”

Judd has previously spoken out about being sexually harassed by Weinstein when she was a young actress during what was billed to her as a business meeting, but instead turned out to be repeated overtures for her to watch him shower or to let him massage her. As Weinstein continued to pressure her, she said she managed to escape the situation by telling him only after she won an Oscar with Miramax, Weinstein’s production company, would she allow any of what Weinstein described to actually take place. When the actress encountered Weinstein a few years later, she said she made clear to him that their “deal” was never going to happen — and that in retaliation the producer had blacklisted her to executives in the industry ever since.

Judd’s lawsuit against Weinstein, which targets him under California’s Unfair Competition Law, has the potential to open the door for others who had their careers harmed in retaliation for rebuffing sexual harassment in the workplace. But in their motion to dismiss, Weinstein’s lawyers argued that Weinstein couldn’t have harassed her because Judd agreed to the so-called “deal,” and that even then his actions did not constitute harassment since they were “not severe and pervasive” and because the two lacked a legally binding employer-employee relationship. In response to allegations from Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson that he declined to cast Judd or actress Mira Sorvino, who has also accused Weinstein of harassing and trying to massage her during an ostensible business meeting, after being told they were unhirable by Weinstein, the mogul’s lawyers argued that he should not be held responsible because Judd had not asked Jackson why she wasn’t cast.

Actress and activist Ashley Judd. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

As evidence of Weinstein’s good faith in honoring the supposed “deal,” his lawyers pointed to the fact that Judd had also been cast in two of Weinstein’s movies in the decade after their meeting — Frida and Crossing Over. Salma Hayek has also previously spoken out about facing a deluge of harassment by Weinstein after she pitched him the idea for Frida, and that in an attempt to nullify a legal contract he had already signed after her repeated refusals he had asked her to achieve four “impossible tasks” — including quickly getting a high-profile talent to sign onto the film in a supporting role. In response, Hayek said that she reached out to Judd, a close and longtime friend, whom she said immediately agreed to help her without even asking for details.

Weinstein is facing multiple sex crime charges in New York City and has pleaded not guilty on two occasions. He is free on bail and being monitored by a device attached to his ankle. Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that Weinstein is working as a paralegal on his own case and is hoping to get back into the movie business someday.

Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.


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