A Manhattan federal judge ruled Tuesday that a sex trafficking lawsuit filed against Harvey Weinstein can move forward after the disgraced movie mogul tried to get it thrown out.
British actress Kadian Noble has alleged that the movie producer assaulted her and, in her lawsuit filed in November, claimed that he violated federal sex trafficking laws when he promised her a film role if she went to his hotel room in Cannes, France, in 2014, according to Page Six.
“Plaintiff has plausibly alleged that Harvey Weinstein, knowingly and in interstate commerce, enticed and or recruited her knowing that means of force, fraud, or a combination of the two, would be employed to cause her to engage in a commercial sex act,” U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet said, according to Deadline. (RELATED: Harvey Weinstein Asks Judge To Throw Out Ashley Judd’s Blacklist Lawsuit)
Ruling that the proverbial casting couch could be considered a form of a “commercial sex act,” Sweet said that the suit could proceed because other courts have allowed for civil claims of sex trafficking to “defendants who have lured women, under false pretenses, with lucrative promises for sexual purposes.”
“Here the pattern of behavior … alleged a knowing and understanding that Harvey would use fraudulent means to entice Noble to engage in a sex act with him,” Sweet explained. “The promise of a film role, the interview … for the film role, and the assurances that ‘everything will be taken care of for you if you relax,’ including as he forced her to masturbate him, support this.”
“This decision is just the first round, and merely finds that the plaintiff has alleged enough to proceed with her case,” Weinstein’s lawyer Phyllis Kupferstein said in response to the ruling. “It does not mean that there is merit to the case. We will seek to appeal the decision. We believe these claims are not legally or factually supported, and ultimately will not be sustained.”
The former movie producer had filed to stop the suit based on the fact that nothing of value was exchanged when they met in his hotel room in 2014, where he allegedly molested her and forced her to masturbate him. Weinstein’s team tried to claim that accepting the suit would mean that sex trafficking laws now cover “all sexual activity occurring between adults in which one party holds a superior position of power and influence.”
Weinstein has faced accusations from more than 80 women, which has resulted in a dozen lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault to sexual harassment allegations.