Ashley Judd's Lawsuit Against Harvey Weinstein Paused by Judge

The court found Weinstein's Fifth Amendment rights could be implicated if Judd's civil suit proceeds before the producer's criminal trial.
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Ashley Judd, Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein doesn't have to continue fighting a defamation lawsuit filed by Ashley Judd until after his criminal sexual assault trial, a California federal judge ruled Tuesday. 

The actress in April 2018 sued the producer, claiming he sexually harassed her and badmouthed her to filmmaker Peter Jackson, which cost her a part in The Lord of the Rings. In September, U.S. District Court Judge Philip Gutierrez dismissed Judd's sexual harassment claim, but allowed her defamation claim to move forward. 

In January, Weinstein asked Gutierrez to stay the suit. He argued that he needed to preserve his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the criminal matter and therefore couldn't adequately defend himself against Judd.

Gutierrez on Tuesday granted the motion, finding that while the nature of Judd's suit and the criminal case are "quite different," there's reason to suspect they may intersect. Judd has indicated she may attempt to prove her claims using evidence concerning Weinstein's interactions with other women, and the New York prosecutor trying the criminal case intends to introduce evidence regarding other acts of sexual misconduct. (Read the full decision below.)

"At this point — with Defendant’s criminal trial set to take place in two months — the Court believes that a complete stay of the proceedings is appropriate, with the exception that the stay will not extend to Plaintiff’s forthcoming appeal of the Court’s order dismissing her sexual harassment claim," writes Gutierrez. "However, in the event that it becomes apparent that Defendant’s criminal proceedings will extend well past June, the Court may be willing to revisit this issue."

Weinstein in January lost a similar bid to pause a suit from a group of women who are suing him for assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress. 

One of Judd's attorneys, Michael Dore of Gibson & Dunn, on Tuesday sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement in response to the decision. “The Court’s order staying Ms. Judd’s case while Mr. Weinstein is on trial for rape and other charges is no surprise, since the Court took the view that when Mr. Weinstein finally answers her questions under oath prosecutors could use any truthful answers he’s given to try to put him in prison," says Dore. "At the same time, we’re very pleased that the Court has given Ms. Judd a chance to immediately seek an order from the Court of Appeals regarding what the Court described as an 'issue of first impression' under California law that could affect others like Ms. Judd who only recently discovered that sexual harassment harmed their career prospects.”

April 3, 9:00 a.m. Updated with a statement from Ashley Judd's legal team.