Judge: Human trafficking law OK against Harvey Weinstein
NEW YORK (AP) — A second judge ruled Monday that a human trafficking law can be used in a civil lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein.
U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer in Manhattan made the finding as he let former Weinstein consultant Alexandra Canosa’s lawsuit proceed against Weinstein and two of his companies.
In her 2017 lawsuit, Canosa alleged that Weinstein on multiple occasions from 2010 to 2017 raped, sexually abused, intimidated and harassed her during what he maintained were business meetings in New York, Los Angeles, Malaysia and Budapest.
Canosa, a producer on Netflix’s “Marco Polo,” sought unspecified damages, saying Weinstein threatened she’d lose her job and he’d blackball her in the entertainment industry if she rejected sexual advances.
Engelmayer said Carnosa had “plausibly alleged” that Weinstein knowingly enticed or recruited her knowing he would use force or fraud to cause her to engage in a commercial sex act. Her lawsuit alleged that she expected and received career advances after coerced sexual activity.
The judge rejected arguments by Weinstein’s companies that the sex trafficking law was inappropriate because the lawsuit’s allegations were not the kind that the law was passed to address.
He wrote that arguments that the law was designed to “reach only caricatures of child slavery, and to exclude corporate-supported conduct, is wholly unpersuasive.”
Engelmayer said such arguments were a “self-serving distinction.”
“That the TWC Companies, as alleged, enticed Canosa to meet with Weinstein through the promise of production deals rather than the promise of crack, does not remove their conduct from the ambit of the statute,” he said. “Nor does the fact that, as alleged, the companies enabled Weinstein to force sexual acts on Canosa in expensive hotels rather than brothels.”
Weinstein’s lawyer Elior Shiloh said the judge erred in letting the human trafficking claim proceed and defense lawyers believe they will defeat the claim as the case proceeds.
Shiloh also said Canosa’s email communications “completely undermine the allegations.”
He said Canosa and her lawyers have asked that the email communications be kept under seal.
“They don’t want the truth to come out because it’ll ruin the whole case,” Shiloh said.
In his ruling, Engelmayer said he agreed with the reasoning of Judge Robert W. Sweet, who ruled last year in another civil lawsuit against Weinstein that the sex trafficking law was appropriately used.
“He is correct,” Engelmayer said of Sweet.
Scores of women have accused the movie mogul of sexual misconduct. He has denied non-consensual sex allegations.
In Monday’s ruling, Engelmayer also dismissed as defendants Weinstein’s brother and the directors of the Weinstein companies.