MANHATTAN (CN) – One of the sprawling class actions that accuses The Weinstein Co. and Miramax executives of enabling years of sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein took an inauspicious turn Wednesday at a hearing in federal court.
Presiding over the suit filed in December 2017 from lead plaintiff Louisette Geiss, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein told attorneys for the class that they must show a pattern of sex trafficking to advance conspiracy claims.
“If you can do that, you can pass the bar,” Hellerstein told told Hagens Berman attorney Elizabeth Fagen.
Hellerstein set an Oct. 31 deadline for the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint for their sex-trafficking claim under federal anti-racketeering law, urging specificity in their claims.
The 85-year-old judge was succinct, if ribald, in his summary of the allegations Weinstein still disputes: that for years the producer abused his power in show business to sexually assault dozens of women with impunity.
“We all know,” Hellerstein mused, “Weinstein wasn’t attractive in such a way that, say, Paul Newman was attractive. He wanted sex.”
Weinstein’s was a “reputation not unique in Hollywood,” Hellerstein acknowledged, saying that anyone who crossed paths with the producer “could expect the worst.”
But the judge’s review wasn’t all bad: “Lots of good movies, no question about it.”
Apart from the civil actions against him that stretch the country, Weinstein individually faces a criminal charges in New York.
The Weinstein Company, which filed for filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 19, 2018, opened its records for discovery after Delaware Bankruptcy Judge Mary F. Walrath lifted an automatic stay that allowed the New York suit against the Weinstein Company to proceed.
The Weinstein Company has retained the Chicago-headquartered firm Seyfarth Shaw for their defense.
Weinstein also faces a separate sex-trafficking suit in New York from Kadian Noble, a model who claims to have been sexually assaulted at a hotel room in Cannes, France.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet denied a motion by Harvey Weinstein to dismiss but did grant a separate motion by co-defendant Bob Weinstein, the indicted producer’s brother and longtime business partner.
Harvey Weinstein, who is currently out of jail on $1 million bail following his surrender to New York police in May, also faces state charges that include rape and predatory sexual assault, a felony that carries a minimum 10-year sentence and a maximum of life in prison.
The next hearing in the New York Supreme case is scheduled for Sept. 20.
Represented by attorney Benjamin Brafman, Weinstein has adamantly denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
In February 2018, then-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil rights lawsuit in New York Supreme Court, which similarly sought to hold the Weinstein Company accountable for allowing and covering up pervasive unlawful sexual harassment and gender discrimination allegedly perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob Weinstein.