In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Julia Ormond says Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her and sabotaged her career, accusing Disney of looking the other way.
English actor Julia Ormond, a familiar face on the silver screen in the 1990s who starred in films with Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford, is the latest in a long line of women to accuse disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault.
Ormond filed a lawsuit in New York City’s Supreme Court on Wednesday (4 October), accusing Weinstein of sexually assaulting her in 1995 and then hindering her career. She also accused The Walt Disney Co., Miramax and her former agents of knowing Weinstein was a problem, but doing nothing to protect her.
Weinstein has been sued by dozens of women since a series of 2017 reports in the New Yorker and New York Times uncovered a widespread web of his alleged abuse and misconduct in Hollywood. But his business partners have rarely been named as co-defendants for enabling his behaviour.
In her lawsuit, Ormond says she met Weinstein in 1994 when her career was taking off, and that she kept in touch with him to discuss scripts and projects. In 1995, she entered into a production agreement with Miramax, where he was co-chairman.
Ormond accuses Weinstein of committing sexual battery against her in December 1995 after a business meeting, saying he “stripped naked and forced her to perform oral sex on him.”
She says he then retaliated against her and sabotaged her career after she confronted him weeks later.
Weinstein’s attorney Imran Ansari told the Associated Press that his client “categorically denies the allegations made against him by Julia Ormond and is prepared to vehemently defend himself.”
“Too important, too powerful”
Ormond says she told her US agents at the time about her assault, but she received no support and was advised not to take any legal action or other steps. She accuses Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Disney and Miramax of knowing Weinstein presented a danger to women, but doing nothing to stop him.
According to the filing, “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.”
"Still worse, not long after Weinstein's assault on Ormond and her reporting of the assault to them, CAA lost interest in representing her, and her career suffered dramatically," the lawsuit adds.
CAA responded in a statement that the agency “takes all allegations of sexual assault and abuse seriously, and has compassion for Ms. Ormond."
The statement said the agency hired attorneys to investigate her claims when she first came to them in March, and they found only “evidence of a dynamic and engaged relationship between CAA and Ms. Ormond, and the agency’s consistent efforts to support her career.”
“Ms. Ormond’s claims against CAA are baseless, and the agency will vigorously refute them in court,” the statement said.
A need for systemic change
Weinstein is currently in prison in New York, where he’s serving a 23-year sentence for two convictions of rape. He has appealed both convictions.
More than 100 women have made rape and misconduct claims against the 71-year-old disgraced producer, dating back as far as the late 1970s.
The lawsuit is the first time Ormond has publicly accused Weinstein of sexual assault. She says she made the decision because she wants to make Hollywood safer.
“I am coming forward with my story now publicly because I feel as if we still need systemic change, and I feel that we need accountability from enablers, in order to get there,” she told Variety. “I feel that this is what happened with me.”
Ormond filed her lawsuit under the Adult Survivors Act, a law passed last year in the US state of New York that opened a one-year window allowing victims of sexual assault to file claims after the state’s normal statute of limitations.
Her films include “Legends of the Fall” with Pitt, “Sabrina” with Ford, and “First Knight” with Sean Connery and Richard Gere.