Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is being sued for alleged sex trafficking, a move that could open up an avenue for other women who would otherwise be constrained by statutes of limitations, experts say.
The federal lawsuit filed Monday by Kadian Noble alleges Weinstein enticed her in Cannes France with the promise of a film role, then forced her to engage in a sex act in his hotel room. The actor also alleges that Weinstein's brother and the Weinstein Company were complicit in the scheme.
Sexual assault and battery claims often must be filed within five to 10 years of the incident. But the statute of limitations for civil claims of sex trafficking is longer: They can be brought within 10 years of the alleged incident, potentially exposing Weinstein to further legal action.
"The federal trafficking sex trafficking lawsuit is a very promising and novel legal theory because, at the end of the day, it may be a way to get around a statute of limitations that currently might bar a lot of lawsuits against Weinstein," criminal defense attorney Manny Medrano told BuzzFeed News. "It’s a way to bring back from the dead lawsuits that were simply barred by the statute of limitations. It’s good lawyering, good legal thinking out of the box."
But Arthur Aidala, a New York City trial attorney, said that while he thinks the tactic is "quite unique and atypical," it "really pushes the essence of this law to its limits."
"They are trying to do some legal maneuvering and some slick lawyering, bringing in his brother and his company — that is what we call going after the deeper pockets," he told BuzzFeed News.
Noble alleges that Weinstein groomed her during a trip to London, where he told her he had an acting role that "will be good for you" and then introduced her to his executive assistant. Noble said she subsequently dropped off her reel at Weinstein’s office in London for his review.
In February 2014, Noble said she was in Cannes when Weinstein approached her at the Majestic Hotel and invited her up to his room to discuss the role. Once she arrived, Noble alleges Weinstein instructed her to sit on the couch next to him and they watched her reel. She alleged Weinstein soon started groping her after forcing her into the bathroom, where he forced her hand on his penis while he rubbed her vagina and ejaculated.
"I can still hear the rattle of his belt, him undoing his belt, once he had a grip on me," Noble told CBS. "It seemed like it went on forever.
Noble also went on to describe the incident in detail at a press conference Tuesday where she said Weinstein forced her to rub his penis and told her "don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to suck it."
“He then gripped my hand and forced me to rub his penis up and down," said. “He kept hold of me while I refused him and forced me to rub his penis. He came and then ejaculated all over the bathroom floor and then stepped over it like nothing had happened."
Noble said that she suffered severe injuries, emotional distress, and permanent damages as a result of the assault.
Noble's attorney, Jeff Herman, insists that they are on solid legal ground.
"The facts as alleged in the complaint fit squarely within the statute," he said.
Weinstein's representative issued a statement in response to the lawsuit, saying the producer "denies allegations of non-consensual sex."
"Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances," the statement added.
Weinstein is already facing multiple civil lawsuits regarding allegations of sexual assault. Actor Dominique Huett is also suing the Weinstein Company in California state court for $5 million in damages for allegedly being aware of the producer's predatory behavior and failing to act.
Weinstein also faces potential criminal charges in California, New York, and the UK.