Actress Ashley Judd’s sexual harassment lawsuit against a rapist and former producer Harvey Winstein could go ahead, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.
Judd filed a lawsuit against Weinstein for sexual harassment and defamation in 2018, accusing Weinstein of trying to massage her and forcing her to bathe in the mid-1990s.
When he refused, Judd said that Weinstein had hurt his career and told people that he was difficult to work with “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson. He said that Weinstein advised him against casting Judd in the fictional trilogy, The Associated Press reported.
A lower court judge threw out the harassing portion of the judge’s trial, but on Wednesday a three-judge panel ruled that she could sue under a California law that would apply to defendants other than employers is.
The panel agreed with Judd that the alleged harassment qualified under the law because Weinstein was not working directly with JD at the time, but as a noted kingmaker in the industry, he was in a position of power over him.
According to the AP, US District Judge Mary Marguia said, “Weinstein was uniquely positioned to leverage on harsh harassment or Jude, who was a young actor early in his career at the time of the alleged harassment.”
“Also, given Weinstein’s highly influential and ‘unavoidable’ presence in the film industry, the relationship was one that Jude would find difficult to end ‘without tangible suffering’, with the role cast for livelihood roles as an actor was.” wrote.
“This is a significant victory not only for Ms. Judd but for all victims of sexual harassment in professional relationships,” Jude’s lawyer Theodore Butrus Jr. said in a statement. “The court rightly maintains that California law forbids sexual harassment and retaliation for powerful positions by filmmakers and others, even in the context of employment, and we assert this claim against Mr. Weinstein during trial Look forward to the chase. “
Weinstein was convicted in New York for first-degree sexual assault with a criminal degree and rape in the third degree, and separate criminal charges are pending in California. He has denied all allegations.