Toronto Actress Targets Harvey Weinstein, Disney in Sexual Assault Lawsuit

Disney responds, "There is absolutely no legal basis for this claim against The Walt Disney Company and we will defend against it vigorously."
Courtesy of Christian Alminana/Getty Images

An anonymous Toronto actress is going to court in Ontario over two alleged sexual assaults she says she experienced at the hands of Harvey Weinstein in 2000. Notably, Disney is a co-defendant in the case. At the time of the alleged incident, Disney owned Miramax, the studio founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein.

As first reported by the Toronto Sun, the Jane Doe has filed a statement of claim — the first step in launching the lawsuit. With millions in asserted damages arising from her emotional distress, the actress says she was introduced to "serial sexual predator" Weinstein on the set of an unidentified Miramax film. Weinstein allegedly told her she looked like a famous actress.

A day later, the woman says Weinstein's assistant, Barbara Schneeweiss, called her to tell her Weinstein was impressed after watching initial footage of the film and arranged a breakfast meeting at a local hotel "to discuss her career and potential opportunities with Miramax."

The woman claims she went alone to the meeting, and after being told it had been moved upstairs, she went to Weinstein's suite.

According to the statement, “Once alone with Doe, Weinstein announced, ‘I like massages. What do you think about massages?’ Doe said she thought massages were great, but that the subject was not an appropriate one for a business meeting."

Weinstein chuckled, the statement continues, and gave the woman a tour of the suite.

She says Weinstein then "overpowered her, pushed her onto the bed, and took his penis out of his pants."

The woman says her skirt was forced down and she was held by her wrists, and that the movie mogul forced oral sex on her. 

She adds that she eventually broke free and escaped and ran into Schneeweiss in the lobby. The assistant "looked down." The actress says she soon called her agent and reported what had happened.

Weinstein is said to have later insisted there had been a misunderstanding. The woman says she had voicemails insisting she return.

“Doe was fearful that her movie career, which had barely begun, could be destroyed if she did not return to the hotel and give Weinstein a chance to apologize," states the proposed claim. "She also wanted to confront Weinstein about his conduct. Doe decided to return to the hotel with her agent and friend.”

The woman adds, however, that when she got to the hotel, she agreed to meet him privately again.

"As soon as she did, he threw his weight onto her and tried to stick his tongue down her throat,” according to the statement.

The woman says she was given work in another Miramax film three years later, and that Weinstein continued to "harass" her, although she never met him again.

This is the second civil lawsuit alleging assault against Weinstein since The New York Times and the New Yorker first published their exposés about Weinstein's conduct over the years. The other is  from actress Dominique Huett, who claims in Los Angeles Superior Court that The Weinstein Co. was negligent for enabling the mogul's behavior. As dozens of women have come forward with their own stories, Harvey Weinstein has denied nonconsensual sexual contact.

Schneeweiss is a co-defendant in the lawsuit. She still works for Weinstein Co. and is an executive who has worked on Project Runway.

As for Disney, a spokesperson responds to the Toronto woman's claims by saying, "The Weinsteins operated and managed their business with virtual autonomy, and we were unaware of any complaints, lawsuits, or settlements. There is absolutely no legal basis for this claim against The Walt Disney Company and we will defend against it vigorously.”

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