Ashley Judd to pursue Weinstein blacklisting case

Washington: American actor Ashley Judd has been allowed by a judge to pursue her allegations against director Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of blackballing the former after she had allegedly refused a sexual favour.

In April this year, Judd sued Weinstein, alleging that he had ruined her career by asking director Peter Jackson not to cast her in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ in 1998, reported Variety.

However, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez dismissed Judd’s sexual harassment accusation against the producer, finding that it would be unprecedented to apply the law or ruling to a prospective employer.

“We are very pleased that today the District Court held that Ashley Judd can proceed with her lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein and continue her effort to vindicate the wrongs he committed against her among so many other women. The law should not tolerate this abuse of power to damage another’s career,” said Judd’s attorney Theodore Boutrous.

The 50-year-old actor was one of the firsts to raise voice against Weinstein. She first told the New York Times that the director had invited her to a hotel room in late 1996 or early 1997, and tried to massage her. He even asked her to watch him take a shower, but she declined the same and walked out.

Judd had revealed that she wanted to work in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ but she did not get the opportunity. After the scandal, Peter Jackson had said in an interview that Weinstein’s film company Miramax had discouraged him from casting Judd and another actor Mira Sorvino, describing them as a “nightmare to work with.”

Judd had also revealed that she only had a two-day role in the 1995 Miramax film titled ‘Smoke’ which went positive and she had no interaction with Weinstein during that time, and that’s why Weinstein’s comments were defamatory and demeaning.

However, Weinstein’s lawyers argued that the allegations did not rise to the level of sexual assault and that the entire suit against him should be thrown out due to the statute of limitations. They also added that the producer had tried casting Judd in other roles, proving that he did not want to harm her career.

In his ruling, Gutierrez said that Judd’s claims including defamation, interference with economic advantage, and unfair business practices are enough to proceed with the case.

He also dismissed the statute of limitations objections, finding that Judd did not know she had been blacklisted until the Jackson interview came out.

However, Gutierrez said that Weinstein’s relationship to the actor as a potential employer on future projects is not covered by sexual harassment law.

The judge also granted the opportunity to Judd’s lawyers to amend the harassment claim. An amended complaint is due to take place on October 19.

More than 80 women, including the actresses Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Rose McGowan have opened about similar stories against Weinstein. Some accused him of using physical force to compel them to have sex, while others said he tried to exchange parts in movies for sex or threatened to ruin their careers if they did not fulfill his demands.