Disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting dozens of women, finally faces legal consequences. On December 20th, he appeared in criminal court, where a judge ruled that his case will proceed to trial. But not all of the charges brought against Weinstein have stuck. Yesterday, January 9th, a federal judge dismissed Ashley Judd’s sexual harassment claims against the former producer…for a legal technicality.
CNN reports that U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez ruled that Judd’s case did not meet the legal definition of sexual harassment under California civil code at the time she filed the complaint. According to California Civil Code 51.9, which Gutierrez cited in his ruling (per Deadline.com), there “must be a business, service, or professional relationship” between plaintiffs and defendants for something to be considered sexual harassment. As CNN notes, the law did not cover relationships with directors or producers until September 2018—nearly a year after Judd filed her sexual harassment charges.
In a footnote, Gutierrez also stressed that his decision does not reflect whether or not Judd was harassed in general, but rather if the situation constituted workplace sexual harassments given the specific guidelines of the term and the laws.
Even though Judd’s sexual harassment case has been dismissed, the judge did rule that she could proceed with her defamation suit against Weinstein, in which she claimed that he told Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson she was a “nightmare” to work with after she rejected his advances, which ultimately may have cost her millions in earning potential.
In a statement to Deadline, Judd’s lawyer, Ted Boutrous, remained determined.
The legal battles against Weinstein are far from over, and we’ll be watching as they move forward.