The decision comes in a lawsuit initiated in October by an unidentified Toronto actress who is suing the disgraced Hollywood mogul for $4 million, claiming that he sexually assaulted her twice in 2000, when she was working on a Miramax teen film.
As Jane Doe, the woman is pursuing negligence claims against Miramax, saying it facilitated his “sexual predation in the workplace” and against Disney, the independent studio’s corporate parent at the time, claiming it was “willfully blind” to Weinstein’s conduct. The actress also is seeking damages against Weinstein’s former assistant, Barbara Schneeweiss, whom she accuses of inflicting mental injury.
Disney has taken the position that Weinstein had “virtual autonomy” in how he operated the independent film studio, so there is no basis for the actress’ legal claim against it. The Burbank conglomerate asked the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to present three contracts with Weinstein, under seal, to make its case — but argued it couldn’t do so publicly without violating confidentiality obligations.
Doe’s attorney opposed Disney, arguing it could “cherry pick” parts of the agreement that support its position. Weinstein took no position.
“I am not persuaded that Disney requires a sealing order over the agreements,” wrote Ontario Court case management master P. Tamara Sugunasiri, noting that if Disney chooses to rely on these agreements it must furnish complete copies to Doe and others involved in the case.
Sugunasiri said the documents ultimately could be redacted to protect private commercial arrangements that have nothing to do with the case.
The case has drawn less attention in the U.S., though the details of the alleged assaults have echoes in earlier reports of Weinstein’s misconduct in articles by The New York Times and The New Yorker.
The movie mogul introduced himself to the actress on the Toronto set of a film, where she was on her third and final day of filming, saying she looked like Ashley Judd, whom Weinstein identified as an “ex-girlfriend.”
A day later, Schneeweiss called the actress to say Weinstein was impressed with her talent and wanted to meet over breakfast at the Sutton Place Hotel to discuss her career and potential opportunities with Miramax.
The actress described herself as “thrilled” and “honoured” to have been noticed by Weinstein, thinking the meeting represented a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She arrived armed with her résumé and head shots.
Schneeweiss met her at the hotel restaurant and told the actress Weinstein was on a call in his suite and that the meeting had been moved upstairs. He was on the phone when they arrived, dressed in a white dress shirt and dark pants. Once he completed the call, Weinstein discussed the woman’s career while Schneeweiss took notes.
“After several minutes, Weinstein said, ‘Thank you Barbara, that will be all for now,'” the woman said in her complaint. “Schneeweiss immediately left the room.”
After the assistant left the hotel room, Weinstein announced: “I like massages. What do you think of massages?” She responded that really wasn’t an appropriate topic for a business meeting. To break the awkward silence, she complimented the suite — and Weinstein offered a tour.
Once they reached the bedroom door, the actress alleged that Weinstein overpowered her, pushed her into the bed and propositioned her, saying, “he had made various famous actresses’ careers and could make Doe’s career as well.” Weinstein allegedly pinned he down by her wrists and forcibly performed oral sex on her without her consent, according to the complaint.
She fled the room, visibly distraught, and called her agent to describe what happened.
In the hours that followed, Weinstein called her repeatedly. He left voicemail messages insisting she return to the hotel. The actress finally accepted his call, with a friend and her agent in the room, and Weinstein said there had been a misunderstanding and urged her to return.
Schneeweiss met the actress at the hotel, explained that Weinstein felt “embarrassed” and wanted to apologize, and asked if she would be willing to meet him for a moment privately, according to the complaint.
The actress knocked on the hotel room door and, at Weinstein’s urging, entered the room. As soon as she did, the suit alleges, he again “threw his weight onto her” and “tried to stick his tongue down her throat,” according to the complaint.
After the alleged assaults, the actress said she was given more scenes in the movie, a development the actress described in her complaint as demoralizing because she feared “others on set believed that she had been given additional scenes because she had slept with Weinstein.”
The actress is suing Weinstein for claims of sexual battery, a suit that’s possible even two decades later because Canada has no statute of limitations for sexual assault.