10 Jan 2019

Judge dismisses Ashley Judd's claims against Harvey Weinstein

6:03 pm on 10 January 2019

A federal judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday (Thursday NZT) dismissed actress Ashley Judd's sexual harassment claims in a civil lawsuit she had brought against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

US actress Ashley Judd arrives for the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, California.

US actress Ashley Judd arrives for the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, California. Photo: AFP

The judge said, however, that Judd could proceed with a defamation claim in the lawsuit. Judd had accused Weinstein of defaming her in 1998 after she refused what she said were his sexual advances.

The civil lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in Santa Monica in May, accused Weinstein of causing Judd to lose a part in 1998 in The Lord of the Rings by making "baseless smears" against her.

The lawsuit alleges that Weinstein "was retaliating against Ms Judd for rejecting his sexual demands approximately one year earlier, when he cornered her in a hotel room under the guise of discussing business".

"Weinstein used his power in the entertainment industry to damage Ms. Judd's reputation and limit her ability to find work," it added.

A representative for Weinstein issued a statement later saying the film studio chieftain had "neither defamed Ms Judd nor ever interfered with Ms Judd's career".

Instead, the statement said, Weinstein "championed" Judd's work and "repeatedly approved her casting for two of his movies" - Frida in 2002 starring Salma Hayek, and Crossing Over with Harrison Ford in 2009. It also said he had "fought for Ms Judd as his first choice for a lead role in Good Will Hunting".

The statement did not address Judd's allegations that she was sexually harassed by Weinstein.

Judd was one of the first women in October 2017 to make an on-the-record allegation of sexual misconduct against Weinstein, which soon afterward evolved into the social media #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault. The Oscar-winning producer has since been accused of sexual impropriety by more than 70 women.

He has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.

Judd, a leading member of the 'Time's Up' movement against sexual harassment in the workplace, is seeking unspecified damages and a jury trial.

Judd's representative did not immediately return a call for comment.

The actor said in a statement to the New York Times that any financial recuperation from the lawsuit would be donated to Time's Up "so that women and men in all professions may have legal redress for sexual harassment, economic retaliation and damage to their careers".

- Reuters

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