No Appellate Detour for Weinstein on Casting-Couch Currency

MANHATTAN (CN) – A federal judge kept sex-trafficking claims against Harvey Weinstein on track Monday, refusing to let the disgraced producer appeal the ruling that any promises of stardom Weinstein made to an aspiring actress would hold real-world value.

Marisa Tomei, center, and Amber Tamblyn, right, leave New York Supreme Court after attending a hearing in the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault case on Dec. 20, 2018, in New York. Judge James Burke allowed the sexual assault case to move forward. Also pictured are actresses Jennifer Esposito (back left), Kathy Najimy (front left) and Michelle Hurd (right). (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The ruling came as part of a civil complaint that actress Kadian Noble brought against Weinstein in 2017.

Noble says Weinstein lured her into his hotel room during the 2014 Cannes film festival with the offer of reviewing her film reel. Once there, Weinstein allegedly trapped Noble in the hotel bathroom and forced her to masturbate him while insisting that “everything will be taken care of for you if you relax.”

Separate from his criminal case — which is set to kick off in New York next month — Weinstein suffered a blow in Noble’s civil case when U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet concluded that the proverbial casting couch, in which women are asked to trade sex for Hollywood opportunities, could be considered a “commercial sex act.”

Weinstein had hoped to have the Second Circuit make its own findings, but U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan refused Monday to certify the appeal.

Nathan is presiding over the civil case following the death of Judge Sweet this past March at age 96.

“The court also finds that there is not substantial doubt as to Judge Sweet’s conclusion that ‘thing of value’ encompasses the alleged facts of this case,” Nathan wrote. “Weinstein offered Noble the chance to meet in private to ‘review her film reel and discuss a promised film role’ with ‘a world-renowned film producer,’ as well as ‘the expectation of a film role, of a modeling meeting, of “his people” being “in touch with her.”’ The value of these things for an aspiring actress like Noble could be ‘career-making and life-changing.’ Furthermore, Judge Sweet held that even outside of the assistance itself, ‘Noble’s reasonable expectation of receiving those things in the future, based on [Weinstein’s] repeated representations that she would, is sufficient.’”

Nathan found it “reasonable for Noble to expect that Weinstein would follow through on his promises of career assistance.”

“In this context, the court agrees with Judge Sweet that to conclude that this promise had no value would ‘not reflect modern reality,’” Nathan added. “Accordingly, this court finds Judge Sweet’s analysis to be careful and convincing.”

A pretrial conference Noble’s case is scheduled for Aug. 16.

Weinstein’s lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.

Noble is represented by attorney Jeffrey Herman, who is also suing Weinstein in California on behalf of another woman. In the California case, Dominique Huett says Weinstein masturbated in front of her and performed oral sex on her in 2010.

Weinstein has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in multiple pending lawsuits, including two other sex-trafficking suits in the Southern District of New York.

The producer’s sexual-assault trial in Manhattan Supreme Court is expected to begin on Sept. 9 and last approximately six weeks.

Weinstein faces life in prison for the five counts in New York state case, which consists of two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree, one count of first-degree rape and one count of third-degree rape.

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