The mounting sexual assault and harassment claims against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein could have severe legal consequences for the executive and his former company. Both civil and criminal actions could hinge on statutes of limitations in California and New York.
The mounting sexual assault and harassment claims against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein could have severe legal consequences for the executive and his already struggling namesake company, the Los Angeles Times reports. Although it may be difficult to build a criminal case against Weinstein, his alleged mistreatment of women could expose him and his film and TV company to costly civil lawsuits. “The potential liability is significant,” said Ann Fromholz, a Pasadena attorney who has handled sexual harassment cases. Under California law, Weinstein Co. could be liable for Weinstein’s alleged actions, Whether an alleged victim could bring a lawsuit against Weinstein, 65, would hinge in part on statutea of limitations. In California, the statute of limitations for civil sexual assault is two years and in New York it is three years; Weinstein has been accused of misconduct in both states.
Weinstein Co. fired the executive over the weekend after an investigation by the New York Times said he’d reached at least eight legal settlements, dating to 1990, with women over alleged harassment. On Tuesday, the New Yorker published a story that included, among other allegations, claims that Weinstein had raped three women in the last 20 years. Among them was actress Asia Argento, who appeared in “B. Monkey,” a 1999 drama distributed by Miramax, then headed by Weinstein. Weinstein, who has apologized for some of his behavior, denied the rape claims. “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” a representative said. Experts said Weinstein could face criminal liability over his alleged behavior. In New York, there is no statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault — the result of a 2005 law that did away with a prior timing restriction. In California, a previous 10-year criminal statute of limitations for rape and other sexual misconduct was removed last year.