A lawsuit brought by a Ontario actress against Harvey Weinstein can be considered served even though lawyers have been unable to hand it to the disgraced Hollywood producer in person, an Ontario judge ruled Friday.
The actress, who cannot be named as she is seeking a publication ban on her identity, claims Weinstein sexually assaulted her while she had a part in a movie being filmed in and around Toronto nearly two decades ago.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and no statements of defence have been filed.
Earlier this month, the court gave the woman’s lawyers permission to file a statement of claim despite their failure to serve Weinstein, who they said they couldn’t find.
At that time, the court made an order for substitute service, meaning Weinstein could be served without having the papers put directly into his hands.
At a hearing on Friday, the woman’s lawyer, Alex Smith, said no one had yet been able to find Weinstein to serve him personally. But the statement of claim had been sent to Weinstein’s home, his criminal lawyer and a civil lawyer representing him in a separate lawsuit in Delaware, Smith said.
The judge presiding over the matter said the efforts of the woman’s lawyers were enough to consider Weinstein served.
Weinstein still has not responded to the actress’s lawsuit, in spite of the substitute service, Smith noted.
“While he hasn’t found time to respond to the litigation in this court, he has found the time to issue a statement about … his decision to resign from the Director’s Guild of America,” Smith said.
The matter is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 15, giving Weinstein another chance to send a lawyer to respond to the allegations he faces.
The actress is seeking millions of dollars in damages, claiming she has suffered mental distress, social anxiety and depression, social isolation and feelings of guilt, worthlessness and shame as a result of Weinstein’s alleged actions.
The woman’s lawyers will eventually be seeking to move ahead with the claim without using her name, arguing that identifying her would cause irreparable harm to her mental health and well-being. An affidavit filed in court said she may not continue with the case if she must use her name.
Weinstein, an Oscar-winning film producer, faces sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations from several women.
On Oct. 8, he was fired from the Weinstein Company — the film studio he co-founded with his brother, Bob, in 2005 — days after the New York Times published a story detailing some of the allegations against him. Weinstein’s representative Sallie Hofmeister has said Weinstein denies all allegations of non-consensual sex.
Peter Goffin, The Canadian Press