Ashley Judd’s sexual harassment case against Harvey Weinstein dismissed in Los Angeles court
Judd’s legal team argued the harassment occurred within a professional relationship. (AP: Chris Pizzello/Invision)
A sexual harassment claim against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, filed by actress Ashley Judd, has been dismissed by a federal judge in Los Angeles.
- Ashley Judd alleged she was sexually harassed within a professional relationship
- A Los Angeles court determined her relationship with Harvey Weinstein was not covered under California law
- Despite the dismissal, the judge said he was not determining whether Ms Judd was sexually harassed
Ms Judd’s legal team sued on the grounds that the harassment occurred within a professional relationship.
However, US District Judge Philip Gutierrez ruled that her relationship as an actress with the Hollywood producer was not covered under California law at the time, nor under a 2018 amendment made to include such relationships.
But in a footnote to the ruling, Judge Gutierrez said he was not determining whether Ms Judd was sexually harassed by Mr Weinstein “in the colloquial sense of the term”.
The judge said, however, that Ms Judd could proceed with a defamation claim in the civil lawsuit.
In her lawsuit, filed last April, Ms Judd accused Mr Weinstein of smearing her reputation by discouraging director Peter Jackson from casting her in his movie franchise The Lord of the Rings.
She accused Mr Weinstein of defaming her in 1998 after she refused what she said were his sexual advances during a meeting at a hotel in late 1996 or early 1997.
He “cornered her in a hotel room under the guise of discussing business,” Ms Judd’s legal team alleged.
“Weinstein appeared in a bathrobe, and, instead of discussing film roles, asked if he could give her a massage.
Mr Weinstein denied the claims, with his legal team releasing a statement saying he “fought for” Ms Judd to have a role in Good Will Hunting, and she had featured in two of his films since the alleged incident.
“The most basic investigation of the facts will reveal that Mr Weinstein neither defamed Ms Judd nor ever interfered with Ms Judd’s career, and instead not only championed her work but also repeatedly approved her casting for two of his movies over the next decade,” his legal team said in April.
“Ms Judd was hired for not one, but two of Mr Weinstein’s movies, Frida in 2002 and Crossing Over with Harrison Ford in 2009.
“We look forward to a vigorous defence of these claims.”
Mr Weinstein is to stand trial in May in New York on five charges, including rape, involving two other women.
In a story published by Hollywood Reporter earlier this week, it was revealed his legal team made a move to pause proceedings in the case brought on by Ms Judd.
Ashley Judd is one of several women who have spoken out against the Oscar-winning filmmaker. (Imdb: Paramount Pictures)
They argued he would be denied the Fifth Amendment, the right to remain silent, in the pending trial if he attempted to defend himself in the civil case against Ms Judd.
“There is substantial overlap in the issues presented by the civil and criminal cases,” a motion to the court said.
“The burden on Weinstein has the potential of being dramatically and unfairly negative if the stay is denied.”
Mr Weinstein has denied all accusations of sexual assault, saying any sexual encounters were consensual.
Representatives for Ms Judd and Mr Weinstein could not immediately be reached for comment on the ruling.