Google “sexual harassment” or “sexual abuse” today and you’ll be greeted with headlines involving actress Ashley Judd, Harvey Weinstein and, in an unrelated case, Catholic cardinal George Pell.
Judd has filed a lawsuit against Weinstein for defamation, sexual harassment and damaging her career.
In the civil lawsuit filed in Los Angeles superior court on Monday, the 50-year-old actress alleges that Weinstein used his power in the entertainment industry to smear her reputation, causing her to lose a part in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The suit also accuses him of having done all this as retaliation against Judd for rejecting his sexual demands before she was in serious talks to be in the films.
Peter Jackson, the director of The Lord of the Rings, revealed in December 2017 that Miramax, where Weinstein is a co-founder, told him that Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino “were a nightmare to work with” and they should be avoided. They inevitably lost the chance of being cast.
“But in hindsight, I realise that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing,” Jackson said at the time. “I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women.”
Judd said in a statement: “Mr. Weinstein’s abusive conduct toward others has caused no end of damage to aspiring actors and others in the film and entertainment industry. As my experience and the experience of others shows, even a few false statements from Mr. Weinstein could destroy potentially career-changing professional opportunities. It’s time that Mr. Weinstein be held accountable for that conduct and for the ways in which he’s damaged careers.”
Weinstein has denied Judd’s allegations.
In a statement, his representative maintains that Weinstein had never interfered with Judd’s career, and “instead not only championed her work but also repeatedly approved her casting for two of his movies over the next decade.”
Marco Polo producer files amended complaint
Weinstein faces many other allegations other than those brought to light by The New York Times and New Yorker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning exposé. Marco Polo associate producer Alexandra Canosa filed an amended complaint on Monday, accusing Weinstein of assaulting her “multiple times.” If she refused his advances or exposed him, the suit alleges, he threatened to retaliate and humiliate her, causing the “loss of any ability to work in the entertainment business.”
Cardinal George Pell faces trial for sexual abuse charges
Across the pond, a judge at the County Court of Victoria has ruled that Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell will face two trials on charges of historical abuse spanning three decades. In the long history of sexual abuse cases involving the Catholic Church, 76-year-old Pell is the most senior figure to be accused.
The cardinal, who once served as archbishop of Melbourne and later Sydney, has pleaded not guilty, and is currently out on bail. He has been on a leave of absence, granted by Pope Francis, since June 2017.