This new lawsuit accuses Harvey Weinstein of sex trafficking

This new lawsuit accuses Harvey Weinstein of sex trafficking

At least 57 women have come forward with claims of sexual assault against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein since the original New York Times expose that started it all was published on October 5. The producer has been accused of sexual harassment, assault, and even rape in incidents spanning over three decades.

Yesterday, one more alleged victim came forward with her own claim, and this time, things might be different.

Aspiring British actress Kadian Noble filed a federal lawsuit on Monday, accusing Weinstein of sex trafficking. The suit alleges Weinstein tempted the aspiring actress in February 2014 during the Cannes film festival with the promise of a film role, inviting her to his hotel room and then groping her, trapping her in the bathroom and forcing her to engage in sexual acts.

“Everything will be taken care of for you if you relax,” Weinstein allegedly told Noble.

While the details sound very similar to stories from the other women accusing Weinstein of assault, this case is different because of the nature of the claim.

All previous claims have been categorised under sexual assault and battery claims, which usually must be filed within five to 10 years of the incident. Because many of the Weinstein allegations are said to have taken place outside of this window, the statute of limitations prevent legal proceedings to be initiated.

But for claims of sex trafficking, the statute of limitations is longer – they can be filed within 10 years of the incident. This means Weinstein could be facing further legal action, especially since the move could inspire other women to file their allegations under the same claim who would otherwise be constrained by the shorter statute of limitations.

Noble's notes of the 2014 incident also point to Weinstein's brother Bob and the Weinstein Company for their “reckless disregard” of Weinstein's alleged behaviour, stating they were complicit in the scheme. The document details how an unnamed producer at the company spoke to Noble on the phone, telling her to be “a good girl and do whatever he wished”.

The lawsuit also states that there was a group of women known as "Friends of Harvey" who were also known in the Weinstein Company. These women were purportedly all young actresses who engaged in relations with the producer in exchange for film roles.

As was expected, Weinstein's representative once again denied allegations of non-consensual sex in response to Noble's lawsuit.

"Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances," representatives wrote in a statement.

The federal lawsuit is something Noble and her attorney, Jeff Herman, are confident about. Speaking with BuzzFeed News, criminal defense attorney Manny Medrano commented on the lawsuit, saying it looked promising.

"The federal trafficking sex trafficking lawsuit is a very promising and novel legal theory because, at the end of the day, it may be a way to get around a statute of limitations that currently might bar a lot of lawsuits against Weinstein," Medrano said.

"It’s a way to bring back from the dead lawsuits that were simply barred by the statute of limitations. It’s good lawyering, good legal thinking out of the box."

On the other hand, New York City trial attorney Arthur Aidala said the move is "quite unique and atypical," it "really pushes the essence of this law to its limits."

"They are trying to do some legal maneuvering and some slick lawyering, bringing in his brother and his company — that is what we call going after the deeper pockets," he told BuzzFeed News.

But Noble and Herman insist their suit is perfectly stable in a legal sense. "The facts as alleged in the complaint fit squarely within the statute," he said.

The suit is possibly one with bigger implications, and lands on top of the pile of other civil lawsuits filed against him regarding sexual assault from the other women. Weinstein will also potentially be facing criminal charges in California, New York and the UK.