Six years after the explosive sexual misconduct revelations against Harvey Weinstein triggered the #MeToo movement, a new lawsuit filed against the fallen mogul by actor Julia Ormond seeks to also hold his alleged Hollywood enablers to account.
Ormond on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court against the disgraced movie producer for sexual battery.
The suit also names as defendants Creative Artists Agency, Ormond’s former agency, alleging negligence and breach of fiduciary duty, as well as Walt Disney Co. and Miramax, accusing them of negligent supervision and retention.
Ormond, who starred in such films as “Legends of the Fall” and the remake of “Sabrina,” alleges that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in December 1995 after a business dinner in New York City, where the two were to discuss a project.
Further, Ormond contends that after she informed her agents Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane, currently CAA’s co-chairmen, they did nothing to help her and instead cautioned her about speaking out.
Lourd and Huvane are not named as defendants in the suit. However, their names are cited throughout the complaint.
“The men at CAA who represented Ormond knew about Weinstein. So too did Weinstein’s employers at Miramax and Disney,” the lawsuit states. “Brazenly, none of these prominent companies warned Ormond that Weinstein had a history of assaulting women because he was too important, too powerful, and made them too much money.”
“Harvey Weinstein categorically denies the allegations made against him by Julia Ormond and he is prepared to vehemently defend himself. This is yet another example of a complaint filed against Mr. Weinstein after the passing of decades, and he is confident that the evidence will not support Ms. Ormond’s claims,” said his attorney, Imran H. Ansari, in a statement.
CAA called the claims baseless.
“CAA takes all allegations of sexual assault and abuse seriously, and has compassion for Ms. Ormond and the experience she described in her complaint,” the talent agency said in a statement. “However, the claims that Ms. Ormond has levied against the agency are completely without merit.”
CAA said Ormond’s counsel approached the talent agency in March about the allegations. The Century City-based agency then hired attorney Loretta Lynch and her law firm Paul Weiss, and the firm’s review “found nothing to support Ms. Ormond’s claims against CAA.”
Ormond’s attorneys also asked CAA to pay $15 million in exchange for Ormond not making public allegations against the agency, which it rejected, CAA said.
Douglas H. Wigdor, founding partner of the New York law firm Wigdor Law who is representing Ormond, responded: “CAA admits that they hired Loretta Lynch to ‘defend’ them. It’s not surprising, therefore, that she found nothing to support our client’s claims. … Rest assured, we will expose the real facts.”
A representative for Disney was not immediately available for comment.
According to the complaint, first reported by Variety, Weinstein insisted on discussing the project at the Manhattan apartment Miramax provided for the English actor, part of her two-year, first-look deal with the company.
Once there, Ormond, who was “inebriated” to the point she could not put the keys in the door, says despite her protests, Weinstein “stripped naked,” forced her to give him a massage, climbed on top of her, masturbated and then forced her “to perform oral sex on him.”
A few weeks after the alleged assault, Ormond traveled to Copenhagen to work on a film and was informed that Weinstein planned to visit her.
“Horrified,” according to the suit, she called her agents at CAA, Lourd and Huvane, to “plead with them to prevent Weinstein from coming to Copenhagen.” They declined to intervene, the suit states.
When she told them of the alleged assault, Ormond claims that Lourd and Huvane “focused on the assault from Weinstein’s perspective, asking Ormond whether Weinstein might have believed that Ormond had consented, and suggested that it was Weinstein’s perception of the event — not Ormond’s actual lack of consent — that legally mattered.” They also told her that she might not be believed if she went to the police, and warned, “She risked further angering Weinstein, who could be even more punitive.”
If she retained a lawyer and attempted a settlement, she says, they told her she would get only about $100,000, “which they apparently believed was the going rate for being sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein.”
Lourd and Huvane further advised Ormond not to discuss what had transpired, “because he would sue her for libel.”
“It’s another drop in what’s turning into a huge ocean of bathing in guilt and feeling that we should have done more,” said Stephen Galloway, dean of Chapman University’s film school. “And I think agencies, now managers, are recognizing that they have to protect their clients as part of their jobs and steer them away and give them different kinds of advice than would have been given even five years ago.”
In 2017, CAA issued an apology after the New York Times published a report that the agency failed to act on reports of abuse by Weinstein. The Times reported that eight CAA agents fielded complaints from clients about Weinstein.
The story included an accusation that Lourd attempted to facilitate a meeting between Weinstein and New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow, who shared a Pulitzer Prize with the New York Times for reporting on Weinstein’s abuse of women.
Weinstein, 70, is serving a 23-year prison sentence in New York, where he was convicted in 2020 of sexually assaulting other women. In February, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison for raping a woman in a Beverly Hills hotel in 2013.
In 2019, Weinstein agreed to a controversial $47-million settlement with his former film studio’s board and several women who accused him of sexual misconduct after months of civil litigation.
Ormond is suing under the Adult Survivors Act, which was passed in New York in 2022 in the wake of the #MeToo movement. It establishes a one-year “lookback” window for survivors of sexual assault that occurred when they were over the age of 18, regardless of when it took place.
“After living for decades with the painful memories of my experiences at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, I am humbled and grateful to all those who have risked speaking out,” Ormond said in a statement. “Their courage and the Adult Survivors Act has provided me a window of opportunity and way to shed light on how powerful people and institutions like my talent agents at CAA, Miramax and Disney enabled and provided cover for Weinstein to assault me and countless others. I seek a level of personal closure by holding them accountable to acknowledge their part and the depth of its harms and hope that all of our increased understanding will lead to further protections for all of us at work.”