NEW YORK — A lawyer for an aspiring actress told a judge Wednesday that Harvey Weinstein is a "pimp in a tuxedo" as he tried to bolster his claim that a sex trafficking law commonly used against pimps can be used to sue the disgraced movie producer.
Attorney Jeff Herman made the claim during oral arguments as he tried to convince a New York judge to let Kadian Noble's lawsuit proceed.
Weinstein's lawyer, Phyllis Kupferstein, arguing for dismissal of the lawsuit, said that the 31-year-old London actress cannot claim she is a sex trafficking victim.
"It can't be the law that every time a woman has a sexual relationship with a more powerful man in an effort to advance her career and things don't go the way she likes, somehow that makes her a sex trafficking victim," Kupferstein said.
Herman said comparing Weinstein's actions to what occurs during normal dating interactions is "ridiculous and repugnant."
In her lawsuit, Noble alleged she was abused by Weinstein in Cannes, France, in 2014, after a chance meeting three months earlier at an after-party for the British Academy Film Awards. She maintained she was promised an acting role and was strung along for two years before it became clear it would not materialize.
According to the lawsuit, Weinstein invited her to his hotel room, where he made sexual advances and told her she would receive an acting role and he would arrange for her to meet with an elite modeling agency. It said Weinstein then acted with "aggression, force and coercion" to initiate sexual contact with Noble, telling her "everything will be taken care of for you if you relax."
"Harvey Weinstein is a pimp in a tuxedo," Herman told U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet as he argued that he properly sued under a criminal sex trafficking statute that had never been tested in this way as a civil case.
The judge agreed the lawsuit was unique, saying there were no previous court rulings "close to this, pro or con." He said he would rule at a later date.
Kupferstein told Sweet the lawsuit was stretching the boundaries of the federal sex trafficking law to such an extent that she wondered if Weinstein could be considered a sex-trafficking victim if Noble was using sexual contact to try to advance her career.
She also argued that a promise of a film role has no value and that promising that his employees would be in touch with her might have only meant that they would set up another sexual encounter.
Outside court, Herman said he filed the unusual claim seeking unspecified damages in part because the encounter occurred in another country, involves a foreigner and because the law carries a 10-year statute of limitations.