UPDATE, 10:58 AM: A new lawsuit from four woman claiming Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted them over the decades, including the alleged rape of a 17-year old in 1994, could turn into a long legal war from the imprisoned director and the Walt Disney Company.
“Mr. Weinstein intends to defend against the claims filed anonymously against him yesterday,” said the producer’s civil cases lawyer Imran H. Ansari in a statement to Deadline this morning.
“Some of these claims, including those alleged to have occurred in the 1980’s and 1990’s, may be barred by the applicable statute of limitations, and not subject to any exceptions under the law, as these plaintiffs do not appear to be complainants in Mr. Weinstein’s criminal case,” the Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins PC attorney added of his currently incarcerated client, who was sentenced to 23 years behind bars for a litany of sex crimes back in March.
While New York’s passage of the Child Victims Act passed in August 2019 provides for once- underage victims to be able to take their alleged abusers to court no matter how much time has passed since the attack, the cases of the three other Jane Does seem to be in murkier legal waters – at least for now.
The Walt Disney Company was also named as a defendant because of its past corporate history with Weinstein’s Miramax. Disney said “there is absolutely no legal basis for claims against the company, and we will defend against them vigorously,” in a statement hours after the damages seeking lawsuit was filed in New York Supreme Court yesterday.
PREVIOUSLY, MAY 28 PM: Harvey Weinstein already is behind bars for rape, but charges against the disgraced producer continue to emerge with four women filing a sexual abuse lawsuit Thursday in New York that includes an underage assault.
Also naming former Miramax parent the Walt Disney Company and Bob Weinstein as defendants, the jury trial-seeking suit in New York State Supreme Court claims that the Pulp Fiction producer raped his “approximately seventeen years old” accuser in 1994 in NYC. After the attack, the sometimes brutally frank filing alleges, Weinstein took the aspiring actress’ ID and said if Jane Doe II — as she is called in the suit — uttered a word of what happened “not only make sure she never got to act in any films, but also have his associates track her down and physically harm her and her family.”
Asking for unspecified damages as well as an “injunction and order permanently restraining Defendants from engaging in such unlawful conduct,” the suit also details how Weinstein held Jane Doe I in his hotel room at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival. The 68-page document (read it here) additionally outlines how he allegedly raped Jane Doe III in a New York hotel in 2008 and assaulted Jane Doe IV in 2013 at the Venice Film Festival.
Once considered beyond the statute of limitations, alleged sex crimes such as the ones Weinstein is accused of today now can be brought before the courts in part due to the Empire State’s passage of the Child Victims Act in August 2019. That law provides for once underage victims to be able to take their alleged abusers to court no matter how much time has passed since the attack itself.
Representatives for Harvey Weinstein did not respond to comment on the lawsuit tonight when contacted by Deadline. Disney, which bought Miramax in 1993 and sold the company several years later, did make sure to put as much space between itself and the brothers are corporately possible.
“The Weinsteins operated and managed their business with virtual autonomy,” a Disney spokesperson told Deadline tonight. “There is absolutely no legal basis for claims against the company, and we will defend against them vigorously.”
As they have been in past legal actions, the House of Mouse, Harvey Weinstein’s brother and former business partner Bob and Miramax have been called to task here for purportedly turning a blind eye or actively covering up for the Oscar-winning producer. Weinstein “had his behavior ratified or concealed by higher-ups, managers and principals,” the filing on behalf of the four anonymous women by NYC’s Merson Law firm states.
Having separated from the Weinsteins in 2005, Miramax has had several ownerships changes since then.
After a trial that lasted almost two months, on February 24, the one-time mogul was found guilty by a New York jury of two sex crime felony charges Allegedly suffering from a litany of health issues that saw him in an out of Bellevue Hospital, Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years behind bars on March 11.
Already facing a COVID-19 paused extradition to LA on a series of rape and sex-crime charges, such as an April 10th added sexual battery by restraint charge, Weinstein is presently out of isolation and serving his time at the maximum security Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo.
Accused by Ashley Judd in a now temporarily halted case, failing to get a sex-trafficking class action tossed out, and the subject of a more recent lawsuit from a woman who says he abused her when she was 16 in 2002, Weinstein is also facing allegations from close to 100 other women who say he sexually assaulted or sexually harassed them. Over the past year, several of those individuals are refusing to participate in a potential $25 million over-arching settlement that is part of an overall $45 million deal on the table.
Using terms like “insulting” to describe the proposed settlement on March 9, several Weinstein accusers have publicly called on New York Attorney General Letitia James to reject that proposed multimillion-dollar settlement with Weinstein and his former company – a deal that would see millions more for lawyers and former members of the Weinstein Company board with no admission of guilt on the part of Weinstein himself.