LOS ANGELES • A United States court of appeals on Wednesday ruled that actress Ashley Judd has the right to pursue her sexual harassment lawsuit against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, overturning a lower court's decision.
The three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Weinstein, who is in prison, held power over the actress and her career when he invited her to his room in a luxury Los Angeles hotel in the mid-1990s.
The lower court had previously dismissed Judd's claim on grounds that the sexual advances Weinstein, 68, allegedly made on her were not covered by sexual harassment laws relating to a professional relationship since she was not his employee. But it had allowed the actress to pursue defamation claims against the producer.
Judd, 52, was one of the first women to come forward with sexual harassment claims against Weinstein, and sued him in April 2018 over the incident at his Beverly Hills hotel where she met him to discuss potential film roles.
She alleges that after she rebuffed his advances, Weinstein defamed her and damaged her career by discouraging The Lord Of The Rings (2001 to 2003) director Peter Jackson from giving her a role, claiming she was a "nightmare" to work with.
Her lawyer Theodore Boutrous Jr hailed Wednesday's ruling, saying it marks an important victory for all victims of sexual harassment in professional relationships.
Weinstein is currently serving 23 years in prison after he was found guilty of sexual assault and rape in February.