Sex Trafficking Suit Against Harvey Weinstein Moves Forward

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on August 17, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Federal sex trafficking laws are usually reserved for forced prostitution cases. But British actress Kadian Noble has cleared her first hurdle in the unorthodox use of the claim in a civil suit against Harvey Weinstein. At issue is a series of events in which Weinstein used force and fraudulent promises of future acting jobs in order to lure her into sexual assault.

Sex Trafficking, in a Different Light

The sex trafficking law Noble asserts Weinstein violated requires Noble to prove Weinstein used force, threats, fraud or coercion to recruit or entice Noble to engage in a commercial sex act. Noble alleges that Weinstein invited her to his hotel room during the Cannes Film Festival in May 2014 to view her film reel, which she had previously submitted to one of his assistants.

There, she claims, Weinstein put a producer on the phone with her, and said he would work with her "if she was a good girl" and did whatever Weinstein wanted. He then allegedly forced her into the bathroom and sexually assaulted her, all the while promising that everything would be taken care of if she relaxed. As she left, Weinstein told Noble "his people" would be in touch with her. No film role ever materialized. Weinstein's lawyer asked for the case to be dismissed, claiming there was no fraud, nor "commercial sex act."

Dinner and a Movie?!

Weinstein's lawyer made a major miscue when he asserted that if this were sex trafficking, then so too would be anytime a successful business person took someone to dinner and a movie, promises future dates and gifts, and engages in consensual sexual acts. The judge summarily dismissed this argument, stating "Notably absent from this hypothetical are the necessary elements of force, fraud and commerce, all of which have been established here."

Though Weinstein claims this could not be a commercial sex act, the judge sided with Noble, citing that the expectation of a movie role constituted something of value.

Opening the Door for Future Sex Trafficking Charges?

Weinstein's legal dance card is full these days, as he faces criminal charges for alleged sexual assault on three other women, as well as a host of sexual harassment lawsuits and a civil rights investigation. He has repeatedly denied any nonconsensual sex. Incidentally, with this ruling, the judge has opened the door for these three other woman to assert civil sex trafficking charges, if all elements of the crime can be proven.

If you, or someone you love, has been the victim of a sexual assault, contact a local personal injury lawyer. Victims of sexual assault or sexual abuse can, and should, file a civil lawsuit against the abuser and any additional parties that contributed to the assault.

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