Harvey Weinstein Loses Bid to Toss Sex Trafficking Claim

Harvey Weinstein, center, leaves a courtroom
Craig Ruttle/AP/Shutterstock

A federal judge on Thursday denied Harvey Weinstein’s motion to dismiss a sex trafficking claim filed by a woman who alleges she was raped by the producer.

Wedil David first filed suit against Weinstein in state court in November 2017, under the name Jane Doe. The case has since moved to federal court, and in May, David’s attorneys amended the complaint to include a claim of sex trafficking.

According to David’s suit, Weinstein told her that he was considering her for a role in the show “Marco Polo,” and used that as a lure to get her to come to his room at the Montage Hotel in early 2016.

Several Weinstein accusers have accused Weinstein of violating the federal sex trafficking statute, by effectively offering to exchange movie roles for sex. Weinstein’s attorneys have sought to throw those charges out, claiming that scenario is not what Congress had in mind when it wrote the statute.

But several judges have now allowed the claim to proceed, finding that the plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that Weinstein was engaged in “commercial sex acts.” Judge Robert W. Sweet, who died in March, wrote a ruling in August 2018 in which he held that a meeting with Weinstein could be considered a “thing of value” under the statute.

“For an aspiring actress, meeting a world-renowned film producer carries value, in and of itself,” he wrote. “The opportunity, moreover, for the actress to sit down with that producer in a private meeting to review her film reel and discuss a promised film role carries value that is career-making and life-changing.”

U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams cited that ruling, among others, in refusing to dismiss the sex trafficking claim in the David suit. David is among a handful of plaintiffs who have refused to take part in a “global settlement” of sex misconduct claims against Weinstein.

Abrams threw out a negligence claim in David’s suit against Bob Weinstein. She had earlier dismissed claims against Weinstein Co. board members.