Ashley Judd’s defamation suit will be put on hold until Weinstein’s criminal case concludes.
Former hotshot producer Harvey Weinstein won a rare reprieve after a judge granted his counsel’s request to pause a defamation suit filed by actress Ashley Judd.
Weinstein, who faces life in prison for sexual assault, is also at the epicenter of several lawsuits.
Judd filed hers against the disgraced Hollywood mogul in early April, claiming he sexually harassed her. When Judd didn’t give in to his coercion or advances, Weinstein purportedly retaliated. According to Judd, he told director Peter Jackson not to cast her, costing her a role in the ‘Lord of the Rings.’
Business Standard reports that one of Judd’s lawsuits was dismissed last year.
In a September 2018 ruling, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez discarded Judd’s sexual harassment suit but allowed her to pursue a defamation case against Weinstein.
But, at the beginning of this year, Weinstein requested a stay on the suit. Citing his ongoing criminal trial and Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination, the producer suggested it’d be impossible to defend himself without giving a prosecutor undue leverage.
On Tuesday, Gutierrez ruled in favor of Weinstein’s motion, opining that, while Judd’s suit is “quite different” from the prosecutor’s indictment, the two cases could still intersect.
“The Court GRANTS Defendant’s motion to stay this case pending resolution of his criminal case in New York, with the exception that the stay does not extend to any appeal Plaintiff takes from the Court’s entry of judgment on its order dismissing her sexual harassment claim,” Gutierrez wrote in his ruling.
Weinstein, adds Deadline.com, is expected to appear in court to address the criminal charges on April 26th.
The same website notes that Weinstein’s attorneys have employed a variety of legal tactics to shield their client. Facing indictments, lawsuits, criminal cases and trials, Weinstein’s team says it’s not reasonable to expect the producer to defend himself in multiple states at the same time.
In fact, Deadline notes, his lawyers have suggested that being forced to do so could infringe upon Weinstein’s constitutional rights.
But the stay of litigation is scarcely good news for Weinstein. Although her suit’s delayed, Judd may get another chance to sue for sexual harassment. In a separate order, Judge Gutierrez also expediated Judd’s appeal to reinstate the case.
“Taking all of the circumstances into account, the Court concludes that there are no just reasons for delaying appeal of the dismissal of Plaintiff’s sexual harassment claim,” Gutierrez wrote. “The claim presents novel legal questions that are entirely distinct from Plaintiff’s other claims, and appellate review may provide importance guidance to other courts grappling with similar issues.
“Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion for entry of judgment on her sexual harassment claim.”
Judd, writes Deadline, claims her ‘Lord of the Rings’ rejection was a direct consequence of turning down Weinstein’s sexual advances. The producer purportedly told his Hollywood colleague Peter Jackson “that [Weinstein’s] studio had had a ‘bad experience’ with Ms. Judd, and that Ms. Judd was ‘a nightmare’ to work with and should be avoided ‘at all costs.’”
To date, Weinstein’s been accused of sexual assault, predation and exploitation by more than 60 women.
He was indicted last year on two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count of first-degree rape and another count of third-degree rape. While some of the charges have since been trimmed, Deadline says Weinstein still faces five felony charges from the Manhattan District Attorney.
If found guilty on all counts, Weinstein could spend the rest of his life behind bars.