Harvey Weinstein Wants Ashley Judd to Dismiss Her Lawsuit, Claims His Conduct Was Not 'Severe'

Illustration for article titled Harvey Weinstein Wants Ashley Judd to Dismiss Her Lawsuit, Claims His Conduct Was Not 'Severe'
Image: Getty

Here’s a quick piece of troubling Harvey Weinstein news: his lawyers have asked a judge to “throw out” a lawsuit filed by Ashley Judd earlier this year in which she claims Weinstein “dissuaded” Peter Jackson from casting her in The Lord of the Rings as a punishment for refusing his prior sexual advances.


While it should surprise no one that someone with expensive attorneys would make this sort of request, the language they used is even more shocking and callous than I could have expected. In the memo supporting the motion to dismiss, they write (emphasis mine):

“Plaintiff may dispute she was difficult to work with but, like beauty, the experience is in the eye of the beholder. Describing [Judd] as a ‘nightmare’ and cautioning others to ‘avoid’ her does not support a defamation claim.


If, as alleged, Weinstein had a financial stake in LOTR, he would have a legitimate business reason to comment on casting and avoid actors that he thought would be a ‘nightmare’ to work with... Even assuming Weinstein made the statement to Jackson and Walsh, and such statement was defamatory and not privileged, Plaintiff filed this action 20 years too late.”

They also write that Judd’s sexual harassment claim “fails for several reasons,” writing:

“Weinstein’s alleged unwanted sexual advances occurred on a single day and consisted of him asking to give Plaintiff a massage, asking her to help him pick out clothes, and asking her to watch him shower. These allegations fall far short of meeting the ‘pervasive or severe’ required element.”

I reached out to Judd’s lawyer, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., for a response to this week’s motion to dismiss, and he provided Jezebel with the following statement:

Mr. Weinstein’s arguments seeking to escape the consequences of his despicable misconduct are baseless. We look forward to opposing his flawed motion, moving forward with discovery into his outrageous behavior, and proving to a jury that Mr. Weinstein maliciously damaged Ms. Judd’s career because she resisted his sexual advances. 


Staff Writer, Jezebel | Man



This is the argument his lawyers need to make though. Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual conduct that is so severe, pervasive or persistent that it impacts the recipient’s job. His lawyer needs to argue it wasn’t severe, persistent or pervasive. One day of conduct isn’t going to be persistent or pervasive, and severe sexual harassment usually means physical contact (like a sexual assault). Asking her to watch him shower is disgusting and wildly inappropriate but it’s fair for his lawyer to say it’s not “severe” under the law.