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It’s been nearly three years since Ashley Judd, along with a number of other women, came forward with sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Earlier this year, the disgraced executive was found guilty for a number of charges, including third degree rape, and was sent to prison for 23 years. This week, a court ruling has altered a sexual harassment law as a result of Ashley Judd’s specific claim against Weinstein.
When the Divergent actress spoke out about her 1998 experience with Harvey Weinstein, she explained that he had made unwanted demands in her Beverly Hills hotel room, such as asking her to watch him shower and trying to give her a massage. She believes her rejection came back to bite her when she was up for a role in Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson has since confirmed that he removed the actress from consideration from a role after a meeting with Harvey Weinstein. He, or someone from Miramax, allegedly called her a “nightmare” to work with.
Since Ashley Judd’s claims were made, she has not been allowed to move forward with her suit because California sexual harassment laws were not in her favor. Because the actress was not a direct employee of Havey Weinstein at the time, it was struck down by a federal judge. The Ninth Circuit has now made a new ruling that will not only allow Judd to finally pursue her case, but so will others claiming sexual harassment in professional relationships.
Ninth Circuit Judge Mary Murguia said this with the ruling, per The Hollywood Reporter:
We conclude that, as alleged, section 51.9 plainly encompasses Judd and Weinstein’s relationship, which was 'substantially similar' to the 'business, service, or professional relationship[s]' enumerated in the statute. As in the enumerated relationships, their relationship consisted of an inherent power imbalance wherein Weinstein was uniquely situated to exercise coercion or leverage over Judd by virtue of his professional position and influence as a top producer in Hollywood. We have no difficulty concluding that the California Supreme Court would reach the same conclusion, obviating the need to certify the question. Therefore, the district court erred when it dismissed Judd’s sexual harassment claim under section 51.9.
In other words, Ashley Judd’s claims are valid because although she was not officially an employee with Harvey Weinstein, the mogul was in a significant position of power over her of leverage that applies to claims of sexual harassment in the workplace. Weinstein’s attorney, Phyllis Kupferstein, responded to the new ruling with these words:
We are glad that both Ms. Judd and Mr. Weinstein will have their day in court, where we expect the truth will come to light. The most minimal investigation of the events will show that Mr. Weinstein neither defamed Ms. Judd, nor hindered or interfered with her career, and certainly never retaliated against her and indeed, had nothing to retaliate for. Instead, Mr. Weinstein championed her work and approved her casting for two of his movies.
The claims against Harvey Weinstein are certainly not over yet, as Ashley Judd moves forward with the case she began back in 2017. Progress has certainly been made since she initially spoke out considering the 68-year-old is currently in prison (he allegedly tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after being placed in prison). An almost $19 million settlement was also won by nine of the women in July, though none of the money is apparently coming from Weinstein’s pockets.
The Weinstein claims have brought about more conversation surrounding the #MeToo movement and given more people the courage to speak out against sexual misconduct. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more Hollywood news.