Judd was one of the first women in 2017 to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct [Lucy Nicholson-Reuters]
Reuters

A federal judge in the US city of Los Angeles has dismissed actress Ashley Judd’s sexual harassment claim against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein but said she could proceed with a defamation claim against him, according to media reports.

Judge Philip S Gutierrez ruled on Wednesday that the actress’ sexual harassment claim does not fall within the scope of a California statute, the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times reported.

But he said Judd may proceed to trial on separate allegations against Weinstein of defamation and economic interference, the reports said.

“We have said from the beginning that this claim was unjustified, and we are pleased that the court saw it as we did. We believe that we will ultimately prevail on her remaining claims,” Weinstein’s lawyer, Phyllis Kupferstein, said in a statement.

But Judd’s lawyer, Theodore J Boutrous Jr, said that this ruling does not upend Judd’s complaint.

“Nothing about today’s ruling changes that Ms Judd’s case is moving forward on multiple claims,” Boutrous said in a statement late on Wednesday.

“We look forward to pursuing the three claims for relief that the Court has already ruled can move forward,” he also said.

Defamation charges

Judd had accused Weinstein of defaming her in 1998 after she refused what she said were his sexual advances a year earlier.

In her lawsuit, filed in April 2018, the Double Jeopardy actress accused Weinstein of smearing her reputation by discouraging director Peter Jackson from casting her in his blockbuster movie franchise, The Lord of the Rings.

Judd, one of the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct in October 2017, had accused the Hollywood movie mogul of sexual harassment in violation of a California law barring such conduct by a person in a “business, service or professional relationship” with another.

Weinstein is to stand trial in May in New York on five charges, including rape, involving two other women.

The disgraced Hollywood producer of movies such as Shakespeare in Love has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 70 women. He has denied the accusations, saying any sexual encounters were consensual.

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