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As Harvey Weinstein’s sentencing looms and his attorneys argue for a new trial, a civil battle in New York moves forward and another is filed in Los Angeles.
On Thursday one of the four Jane Does who testified during Weinstein’s L.A. trial filed a lawsuit against him alleging rape and false imprisonment, among other claims. Jane Doe 1, the woman whose testimony prompted a guilty verdict from the jury, says Weinstein assaulted her in February 2013 at an L.A. hotel after the two met at a film festival. She says he showed up at the hotel saying he needed to talk to her, then bullied his way up to her room where he groped her breasts and forced her to perform oral sex on him before moving her to the bathroom and raping her. The suit comes just before the 10-year statute of limitations on her claims would expire.
“Harvey has always denied the allegations, and even more, has maintained that they were never in the same place at the times alleged,” Weinstein’s spokesman Juda Engelmayer said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday. “Certain witnesses lied about crucial evidence that could have exonerated Mr. Weinstein, and it was deemed unnecessary by the court for the jury to hear or know about these facts. His attorneys submitted a motion detailing those facts and contend that the jury would not have convicted him had they known the specifics and that motion speaks for itself and puts this in proper context.” (More details on that motion are below.)
Meanwhile in New York, also on Thursday, a judge denied a motion to dismiss the suit brought by Kaja Sokola, who accuses Weinstein of sexual assault in 2002 when she was a teenage model. The suit, filed under the state’s Child Victims Act, names Disney, Miramax and Bob Weinstein as defendants for their alleged negligence as his employers.
Judge Alexander Tisch found Sokola has sufficiently alleged an employment relationship between Disney and Weinstein for her to pursue a claim for negligent supervision and/or retention, and is allowing similar claims against Miramax and Bob Weinstein, as it pertains to his role within the company, to advance as well. He found the allegations against the companies and exec to be “sufficiently detailed to demonstrate that these defendants knew or should have known of Weinstein’s propensity to commit sexual assault, abuse and/or harassment.”
In a joint statement, Sokola’s attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer said: “Today, the Court’s decision corrected an erroneous federal court interpretation of New York law on negligent supervision that has contributed to the denial of justice to Weinstein survivors and other sexual assault survivors. We look forward to proceeding to discovery and trial on Ms. Sokola’s claims.”
Weinstein’s attorney Imran H. Ansari said in a statement to THR: “The decision by the Court is not surprising, as other Courts, with other litigants, have previously rendered similar decisions when deciding the viability of the Child Victims Act. However, although the legal arguments to dismiss the claims were denied, the factual basis for dismissal remains strong, as Mr. Weinstein categorically, and emphatically, has denied, and continues to deny, the allegations made against him by Ms. Sokola. Importantly, Mr. Weinstein strongly contends that the timeline of events, corroborated by other evidence, will refute Ms. Sokola’s allegations of sexual abuse as a minor.”
In the criminal cases, after an L.A. jury in December found him guilty of three counts involving Jane Doe 1 (forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and penetration by foreign object), Weinstein on Jan. 31 filed a motion for a new trial. His attorneys argue that evidence that would undermine Jane Doe 1’s testimony was excluded from trial and Weinstein was prejudiced by that exclusion. They also say multiple jurors who they interviewed after the trial would have not voted to convict on those counts if they’d seen the evidence. (Weinstein was acquitted of sexual battery by restraint against Jane Doe 3, and the jury didn’t reach a consensus on the charges involving Jane Does 2 and 4.) Weinstein’s lawyers also argue that one of the instructions given to the jury violated his due process rights by insinuating that he suppressed evidence in the case and that inferred his guilt.
Weinstein is also appealing the 2020 verdict from a New York jury that found him guilty of criminal sexual assault in the first degree and rape in the third degree, for which he received a 23-year sentence. The verdict has already been affirmed once, but in August he was granted the opportunity to take another shot at an appeal with the state’s highest court.
The next hearing in the L.A. criminal matter is currently set for Feb. 23.
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