Harvey Weinstein’s Lawyers Fight Sex Trafficking Claim

Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers urged a judge on Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit that accuses him of violating a federal sex-trafficking law.

Kadian Noble, an aspiring actress, alleges that Weinstein groped her and “forced her to masturbate him” during a meeting at a hotel room at Cannes in 2014. Her attorney, Jeff Herman, alleged that Weinstein had run afoul of a federal law that makes it illegal to coerce anyone into a “commercial sex act” in the course of interstate or foreign commerce.

Herman contends that Noble was offered a movie role in exchange for sex, which makes the encounter akin to forced prostitution.

Weinstein has repeatedly denied all allegations of non-consensual sexual encounters. His lawyers, Phyllis Kupferstein and Mary E. Flynn, argue in their motion to dismiss that even if everything Noble alleges were true, it does not constitute a violation of the sex-trafficking statute.

“There simply was no economic activity in the hotel room in Cannes,” they write. “The Complaint fails to allege that anything of value was given to Plaintiff and deliberately accepted in exchange for any sex act… There is no allegation that Weinstein ‘purchased’ Plaintiff and/or that she was an illegal sex worker or human trafficking victim, whom the statute is designed to protect.”

Weinstein’s lawyers also argue that Herman’s interpretation of the statute would criminalize “the types of sexual encounters that occur regularly, rightly or wrongly, in human interaction.”

“Query whether an individual who treats a person to a free dinner and a movie (an ‘item of value’), and then attempts and/or engages in what he or she construes as consensual sexual activity, could be prosecuted under Section 1591 as a ‘sex trafficker.’ The answer would be ‘no,'” they write. “Is this hypothetical scenario any different than a movie producer agreeing to watch a film reel from an aspiring model-turned-actress, and then actually watching the reel, after which sexual activity ensues? Certainly the statute was not drafted for such broad application and should not be so construed here.”

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