Legends of the Fall star Julia Ormond sues Disney and Harvey Weinstein over alleged sexual assault

English actor is suing her former agency, Disney and Miramax for negligence

Tom Murray
Wednesday 04 October 2023 19:57 BST
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Julia Ormond, the English actor best known for her role in 1994’s Legends of the Fall, is suing Harvey Weinstein for sexual battery and CAA, The Walt Disney Company and Miramax for negligence.

Weinstein, the former head of Miramax, is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for various sex crimes and is expected to spend the rest of his life incarcerated.

In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday (4 October) morning in New York Supreme Court, Ormond, 58, claims that Weinstein, 71, sexually assaulted her in 1995 after a business dinner.

“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,” Ormond told Variety, who first reported the news. “I feel that this is what happened with me.”

Weinstein denied Ormond’s claims in a statement via his lawyers sent to The Independent: “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.”

The lawsuit claims that Ormond’s agents did not tell her about Weinstein’s reputation for sexually assaultive behaviour, which it says they knew about, and later cautioned her against speaking out.

Ormond is suing CAA (Creative Arts Agency) for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.

The lawsuit states: “That sexual assault on Ormond could have been prevented if Miramax or Disney had properly supervised Weinstein and not retained him while knowing that he was a danger to the women he encountered at work. Likewise, had CAA fulfilled its legal duties to Ormond to look out for her well-being, to not place her in danger, and to warn her about Weinstein’s predations, Ormond would not have been in a position to be victimized by Harvey Weinstein.”

Julia Ormond (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival)

In response, representatives for CAA said in a statement: “CAA takes all allegations of sexual assault and abuse seriously, and has compassion for Ms. Ormond and the experience she described in her complaint. However, the claims that Ms. Ormond has levied against the agency are completely without merit.

“[...] Ms. Ormond’s claims against CAA are baseless, and the agency will vigorously refute them in court.”

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Weinstein’s Miramax and owner, The Walt Disney Company, are being sued for negligent supervision and retention.

“The men at CAA who represented Ormond knew about Weinstein. So too did Weinstein’s employers at Miramax and Disney,” the lawsuit reads. “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.”

The Independent has contacted representatives for The Walt Disney Company for comment.

Ormond shot to fame with a series of hit films in the 1990s, including First Knight (1995) and Sabrina (1995); however, since 2000 she has appeared in mostly indie projects or in supporting roles.

The lawsuit states that Ormond’s Miramax contract was terminated in 1997 after she rejected Weinstein’s advances once more.

“The damage to Ormond’s career because of Weinstein’s assault and the aftermath was catastrophic both personally and professionally,” the lawsuit says, noting that she has “nearly disappeared from the public eye”.

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