Harvey Weinstein: judge allows sex trafficking case to move to trial

New York judge says Weinstein may have broken sex trafficking law in potential landmark case brought by British actor Kadian Noble

A US federal judge has ruled that a British woman’s sex-trafficking lawsuit against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein can go ahead – setting the stage for a landmark case.

British actor Kadian Noble, 31, sued Weinstein in US district court in New York City in November, charging he brought her to a hotel room in France and sexually assaulted her.

Her lawyers in New York have argued that because Weinstein dangled a movie role for Noble before the 2014 assault, he should be liable for damages under a sex trafficking law, which makes it a crime to coerce someone into sex in exchange for something of value.

Weinstein has tried to get the case thrown out, with his lawyers arguing that because no money and nothing of value changed hands, the allegations did not amount to sex trafficking.

But US district judge Robert Sweet said in the ruling released on Tuesday that the case could move forward to trial – a decision that could set a legal precedent.

Sweet wrote that though the case is “not an archetypal sex trafficking action”, Noble had a plausible case that Weinstein may have broken the sex trafficking law.

The law applies to “defendants who have lured women, under false pretenses and with lucrative promises, for sexual purposes”, and the allegations show evidence of “conscious behavior and fraudulent intent”, the ruling says.

Noble charges that Weinstein invited her to his hotel room in Cannes, in the south of France, to review a film reel she had submitted and discuss a movie role he claimed to have in mind for her. He then allegedly groped her and forced her to perform a sex act in the hotel room bathroom, according to the suit – promising afterwards that his people would be in touch about the job, which never happened.

“For an aspiring actress, meeting a world-renowned film producer carries value, in and of itself,” the judge wrote. “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.”

Weinstein, who has been accused by dozens of women, has denied engaging in non-consensual sex.

He had argued, in trying to get the case dismissed, that “not every alleged sexual assault constitutes a federal violation” and allowing the case to proceed “would unfairly expand the federal sex trafficking statute to all sexual activity occurring between adults in which one party holds a superior position of power and influence”.

Noble has sued based on a US law called the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which is designed to combat sex trafficking both in the United States and involving Americans abroad and allows victims to sue their alleged traffickers in federal court.

The judge agreed to a motion to remove Harvey Weinstein’s brother, Robert Weinstein, from the case.

Contributor

Erin Durkin and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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