NEW YORK (AP) — A New York judge has ruled that an aspiring actress can sue Harvey Weinstein for violating sex trafficking laws because the proverbial casting couch, in which women are asked to trade sex for Hollywood opportunities, could be considered a "commercial sex act."
U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet said the lawsuit filed by Kadian Noble last fall was fairly brought under sex trafficking laws Congress passed that had an "expansive" definition of what could be considered a commercial sex act. His ruling, dated Monday, was filed publicly Tuesday.
He rejected arguments by Weinstein's lawyers that nothing of value was exchanged between Noble and Weinstein in 2014 when they watched her demo reel in a Cannes, France, hotel room before Weinstein allegedly molested her and forced her into a bathroom to watch him masturbate.
Weinstein denies wrongdoing. His lawyer, Phyllis Kupferstein, said she planned to ask for an immediate appeal if the judge will allow it.
Weinstein claimed through his lawyers that letting the lawsuit proceed to trial means sex trafficking laws now cover all sexual activity between adults when one person holds power and influence over the other.
Sweet said that even if the prospect of a film role, a modeling meeting or a continued professional relationship with Weinstein were not enough to constitute "things of value" necessary under the sex trafficking statute, then her "reasonable expectation of receiving those things in the future, based on Harvey's repeated representations that she would, is sufficient."
Sweet also dismissed Weinstein's brother from the lawsuit.