On Thursday, December 19, 2019, Wigdor LLP filed a Child Victims Act lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court on behalf of Kaja Sokola against disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Also named Defendants in the lawsuit are Harvey Weinstein’s brother and longtime business partner Robert Weinstein, The Walt Disney Company, Disney Enterprises (together with The Walt Disney Company, “Disney”), Miramax Holding Corp and Miramax Film Corp. (together with Miramax Holding Corp., “Miramax”) — all of whom are alleged to have enabled Harvey Weinstein in his sexual abuse of Ms. Sokola.
The Child Victims Act was passed in January 2019 by the New York State Legislature and allows survivors of sexual abuse as children to file civil claims until they are 55 years old.
At the center of the lawsuit is an alleged 2002 incident in which Harvey Weinstein invited Ms. Sokola, a 16-year-old model and aspiring actress at the time, to lunch to discuss her acting career. As alleged, rather than take her to lunch, Harvey Weinstein took Ms. Sokola without her consent to his Manhattan apartment where he proceeded to sexually abuse her. Ms. Sokola first met Harvey Weinstein at an event with her modeling agency days before the sexual assault, according to the Complaint.
The Complaint also alleges that numerous employees and executives of Disney and Miramax, including Robert Weinstein, were not only aware of Harvey Weinstein’s propensity to sexually abuse women, but affirmatively took steps to cover up and empower Harvey Weinstein to repeatedly commit sexual assaults. Disney purchased Miramax from Harvey and Robert Weinstein in 1993. The Weinstein brothers remained co-heads of Miramax until 2005, when they left the company and founded The Weinstein Company.
Ms. Sokola was previously an anonymous Plaintiff in a putative class action lawsuit filed by separate counsel against Harvey Weinstein. On December 11, 2019, The New York Times reported that Harvey Weinstein had tentatively reached a $25 million settlement agreement to resolve the class action and all other civil sexual assault cases against him. That same day, Wigdor LLP Founding Partner Douglas H. Wigdor and private attorney Kevin Mintzer, who jointly represent multiple Harvey Weinstein accusers, strongly condemned the reported terms of the deal as unjust and vowed to oppose it.
Ms. Sokola has since rejected participation in the purported “global settlement” and is now represented by Mr. Wigdor and Mr. Mintzer as she seeks to bring Harvey Weinstein and his enablers to justice.
Statement from Douglas H. Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer:
“While others may have decided to settle, albeit under some of the most offensive and one-sided terms, we hope that the filing of this complaint encourages other victims and the New York Attorney General to join us as we continue our efforts at holding Harvey Weinstein and his enablers accountable. Kaja Sokola, who was sexually abused by Harvey Weinstein when she was only 16 years old, is entitled to justice, and we intend to see that she gets it.”
Statement from Ms. Sokola:
“When I was 16 years old, I came to New York from Poland to work as a model and to try to become an actor, which had been my childhood dream. Not long after I arrived in New York, I was sexually abused by Harvey Weinstein. I have been living with the trauma of that day ever since.
I originally filed my case under a pseudonym as part of a class action against Harvey Weinstein, his companies, and associates. But I cannot accept the proposed ‘global settlement’ as fair or just. There is no accountability for the perpetrators, insufficient compensation for all of the victims, and millions of dollars going to people that I believe enabled Weinstein.
Therefore, today I am filing my own case, in my own name, under New York’s Child Victims Act, against Harvey Weinstein and some of his enablers, including Robert Weinstein, Miramax, and Disney, each of whom could have — and should have — stopped Harvey Weinstein before he made me another of his victims.
I have long since moved on from modeling and, because of Harvey Weinstein, gave up on my dreams of acting. I am grateful to do important work as a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist. As part of my professional education and experience, I have learned that some wounds never fully heal. Memories of sexual abuse are like a scar after a burn, but because the injury is to the psyche, it is invisible to everyone except the victim. By revealing my own scar, I hope to encourage others to speak up about their own experiences.
I know that this lawsuit cannot erase the pain that I have been living with for 17 years. But I do hope to achieve at least some measure of justice that has still been denied to Harvey Weinstein’s many victims.”