Already looking at a potential life sentence in his criminal case in New York and new probes by the Los Angeles County District Attorney into sexual assault allegations on the West Coast, Harvey Weinstein now also faces the likelihood of a federal trial on sex trafficking claims.
“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,” Judge Robert Sweet said in an opinion (read it here) published today that tossed out the much accused producer’s desire to get Kadian Noble’s suit dismissed.
While one Weinstein brother might have to step up to the legal consequences in suit from the British actress first filed in November last year, another will not: Sweet on Monday also granted Bob Weinstein’s motion to be cut loose from the proceedings.
“Even if Plaintiff satisfied the first two elements of aider and abettor liability by pleading specific knowledge of Harvey’s conduct in Cannes-and the Amended Complaint provides no such allegations-Plaintiff has not alleged ‘substantial assistance’ by Robert in the commission of the primary violation,” the Empire State-based District Court judge wrote in his 45-page opinion, which could have implications for other lawsuits related to the behavior of Harvey Weinstein that also hame Bob Weinstein. Added the judge: “Oblique references to ‘joint business interests’ and Robert’s ‘support of Harvey Weinstein’ as co-founder of TWC do not suffice.”
“This decision is just the first round, and merely finds that plaintiff has alleged enough to proceed with her case,” Harvey Weinstein lawyer Phyllis Kupferstein responded Tuesday after the judge’s decision became public. “It does not mean that there is merit to the case. We will seek to appeal the decision,” added the L.A.-based Kupferstein Manuel LLP attorney. “We believe these claims are not legally or factually supported, and ultimately will not be sustained.”
Reps for Bob Weinstein did not respond to request for comment on Sweet’s opinion.
In her original complaint, Noble stated that Harvey Weinstein assaulted her in February 2014 in Cannes. The alleged attack came after a first meeting with the now disgraced producer where Noble claimed he promised her a role in an upcoming TWC film, after which she dropped off her acting reel at the TWC London offices. Noble said that Weinstein invited her to his room at the Le Majestic Hotel to watch the reel during Cannes, which is where things supposedly got ugly.
“Harvey Weinstein was able to force or coerce Kadian into sexual activity in his hotel room because of his promise to her of a film role and use of his influence on her behalf,” the unspecified damages seeking civil complaint that named Weinstein, along with his brother Bob and the then unsold TWC as defendants declared. “Harvey Weinstein traveled in foreign commerce, knowingly recruiting or enticing Kadian offering her something of value, knowing that he would use this offer as a means to defraud, force or coerce her into a sexual encounter,” the 11-page complaint added. “Harvey Weinstein ultimately forced Kadian into sexual acts.”
In his dismissal motion of late January, Weinstein’s lawyers argued against that perspective by asserting that “plaintiff fails to allege that she was caused to engage in a ‘commercial sex act,’ as neither she nor Weinstein paid or received anything of value in exchange for the alleged sex act.”
A POV that Sweet clearly does not share.
“For an aspiring actress, meeting a world-renowned film producer carries value, in and of itself,” the federal judge wrote this week. “The opportunity, moreover, for the actress to sit down with that producer in a private meeting to review her film reel and discuss a promised film role carries value that is career-making and life-changing. The contention, therefore, that Noble was given nothing of value — that the expectation of a film role, a modeling meeting, of ‘his people’ being ‘in touch with her’ had no value — does not reflect modern reality.”
As well as being investigated by federal prosecutors and probes by Manhattan D.A Cyrus Vance Jr’s office and the NYPD, allegations against Weinstein have been reviewed by the LAPD, which sent an initial trio of cases to the L.A. County D.A. on February 8. As UK police continue their investigation, the Beverly Hills Police first passed two cases of sexual assault that they say occurred in their jurisdiction to Lacey’s office on January 2.
All those L.A. jurisdiction cases remain under review.