New York — A lawsuit seeking to represent any woman with a claim against Harvey Weinstein can proceed on sex-trafficking grounds, a judge ruled on Thursday, as he dramatically shrank the scope of an action trying to treat the disgraced movie producer and various companies like a mob organisation.
US District Judge Alvin K Hellerstein eliminated 17 claims against the once powerful movie mogul who has been accused by women in several lawsuits of seeking to trade his influence in Hollywood for sexual favors. Weinstein also faces trial in state court on criminal sexual assault charges.
The judge also reduced the number of named plaintiffs from 10 to four and dismissed all other defendants. The women had alleged they were attacked from 1993 to 2011. Weinstein has denied engaging in any nonconsensual sex.
Elior Shiloh, an attorney for Weinstein, said in a statement that his lawyers agree with Hellerstein's dismissal of most of the claims and will "explore all options" to get the final claim thrown out too.
Attorney Elizabeth Fegan, representing the women, said the judge ruled correctly that Weinstein should face the sex-trafficking allegation "that he used his power to deceive and manipulate women, knowing he intended to sexually abuse them."