On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet allowed a lawsuit to proceed that accuses Harvey Weinstein of the crime of sex trafficking by violating federal sex trafficking laws. Some may be surprised that the judge allowed the case to progress, but when looking at the facts of the case it becomes clear that the alleged actions of Weinstein fit both the U.S. and international definition of sex trafficking.
Content Dislaimer: A graphic sexual scene is described below.
In the lawsuit, Kadian Noble alleges that Weinstein lured her to his room at the Le Majestic Hotel in 2014 under the pretense of an audition. Once she was in the room he played her acting demo reel and proceeded to coerce her into sex by wielding his power to advance her career or end it entirely. He proceeded to grope her breasts and then cornered her into the bathroom where he forced her to masturbate him until he ejaculated onto the floor.
Simply put, Harvey Weinstein recruited and then coerced a young woman to perform a sex act in exchange for something of value, (that makes the sex act a “commercial” sex act) and his purpose in doing so was exploitative. All of those elements fit our current understanding of what constitutes sex trafficking.
The complaint against the world-famous producer elaborated on the reasoning behind accusing him of sex trafficking stating that “Harvey Weinstein traveled in foreign commerce, knowingly recruiting or enticing Kadian offering her something of value, knowing that he would use this offer as a means to defraud, force, or coerce her into a sexual encounter… Harvey Weinstein ultimately forced Kadian into sexual acts.”
Harvey Weinstein recruited and then coerced a young woman to perform a sex act in exchange for something of value, (that makes the sex act a “commercial” sex act) and his purpose in doing so was exploitative.
Weinstein’s attorneys sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that the alleged incident did not fit the definition of a “commercial sex act” under the federal trafficking statute, because she was not offered a “thing of value” in exchange for sex.
But in his ruling, Judge Robert W. Sweet boldly declined to dismiss the suit, explaining, “For an aspiring actress, meeting a world-renowned film producer carries value, in and of itself… The opportunity, moreover, for the actress to sit down with that producer in a private meeting to review her film reel and discuss a promised film role carries value that is career-making and life-changing. The contention, therefore, that Noble was given nothing of value—that the expectation of a film role, a modeling meeting, of ‘his people’ being ‘in touch with her’ had no value—does not reflect modern reality.” Indeed it does not.
An important truth that comes to light in this case is that sex trafficking doesn’t always look like Hollywood movies might portray. Women kidnapped, locked up, and forced to prostitute does happen, but the majority of sex traffickers employ more subtle, but arguably just as powerful means of force, fraud, and coercion to get to the same ends. And, often sex trafficking happens right under our noses, in our own communities, to and by people you might least expect.
The Exodus Cry Podcast
Ep. 32: Reaction to Harvey Weinstein Sexual Abuse Allegations
- 1. Photo courtesy of Lev Radin / Shutterstock.com
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