In this file photo taken on May 25, 2018, Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein surrenders to authorities in New York. (AFP/Don Emmert)
Harvey Weinstein failed to persuade a federal judge to throw out a sex trafficking lawsuit by an actress who claims the disgraced movie mogul sexually assaulted her in a hotel room.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson said Weinstein may be correct that Congress may not have intended for the federal sex trafficking statute to apply to a "single, gender-based sexual incident." But he found that Dominique Huett’s lawsuit included all the necessary allegations for her case to proceed. Wilson didn’t rule on the merits of her claims.
A federal judge in Manhattan reached the same conclusion in August in a case brought by a British actress who accused Weinstein of assaulting her at a hotel in Cannes, France, after he had falsely promised her a movie part.
That Huett "may have acted voluntarily is not necessarily inconsistent with her having been enticed," Wilson said in Monday’s ruling. That she went voluntarily with Weinstein to his hotel room may only be due to his alleged fraudulent ploy, according to the judge.
Sex trafficking is usually thought of as forced sexual exploitation in which a victim is sold to a customer or enslaved.
“We respectfully disagree with the court’s interpretation of the statute, and note that the judge was careful to indicate that we may be correct in our understanding that Congress never intended the statute to apply to these circumstances,” Phyllis Kupferstein, a lawyer for Weinstein, said in a statement. “We are confident that this will be adjudicated in step with the spirit and intent of the law.”
Huett sued a year ago, saying Weinstein had arranged to meet with her at the Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel in 2010 and promised a her a role in an entertainment project. Weinstein took her to his room and insisted that she gave him a massage and let him perform oral sex on her, according to the actress.