The Weinstein Company Now Facing Charges of Sex Trafficking
A British model and aspiring actress sued Harvey and Bob Weinstein and The Weinstein Co. on Monday, accusing them of having violated U.S. sex trafficking laws when Harvey Weinstein allegedly assaulted her in France in 2014.
In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the woman, Kadian Noble, 30, says the alleged assault took place at Le Majestic, a hotel in Cannes, France, in February 2014, about three months before the annual Cannes Film Festival.
The civil action, which alleges that Weinstein pulled Noble into the bathroom of his hotel suite and forced her to perform a sex act on him, seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.
Representatives of The Weinstein Co. weren't immediately available for comment, said a woman who answered the telephone at company headquarters.
Bob Weinstein owns about 23 percent of the company, as does Harvey Weinstein, who was fired last month.
The company's board has previously said it was blindsided by the other sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. "These allegations come as an utter surprise to the Board," it said in a statement last month. "Any suggestion that the Board had knowledge of this conduct is false."
Meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein's representatives put out the same statement they have distributed after previous allegations of misconduct against him have emerged: "Mr. Weinstein 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 suit alleges that Weinstein groped Noble and forced her to masturbate him. According to the lawsuit, Weinstein told her that "she needed to relax" and that if she did so, "his people would have all of her details and would 'take care of everything' for her."
Unlike previous lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct or assault by Weinstein, Noble's suit is filed under a federal statute outlawing "sex trafficking activities" that affect interstate or foreign commerce.
Sex trafficking laws are commonly associated with cases involving human smuggling operations, but federal law defines sex trafficking more broadly than that: It's the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of any person "for the purpose of a commercial sex act," and a commercial sex act is "any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person," according to the U.S. Code.