A former teen model is suing Harvey Weinstein, his former studio and others, alleging she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein in 2002, when she was 16.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in the New York State Supreme Court and reviewed by Gothamist, Kaja Sokola says she came to New York from Poland to work as a model and to try to become an actor when she was introduced to Weinstein by her modeling agency. She states in the suit that Weinstein promised to take her to lunch to discuss her career, but instead took her to his SoHo apartment where he “aggressively and threateningly demanded sex.”
"He told her that if she wanted to be an actress, she would have to be comfortable doing whatever the director told her to do—including losing her inhibitions and getting naked," the suit states. "He then instructed Sokola to take off her clothes. Terrified, Sokola followed his instructions and took off her blouse and unzipped her jeans. Sokola felt as though she was no longer in control of her body." Sokola says Weinstein sexually assaulted her, "making her touch and massage his penis while he grabbed at her breasts."
When Sokola tried to leave the apartment, she says she "could not get out because Weinstein was blocking the door, holding her arms and yelling at her to calm down. Weinstein insisted that what had just happened was normal. Sokola began to scream at Harvey Weinstein, telling him that she did not want to touch him or do what he wanted of her. Harvey Weinstein returned Sokola’s shouting with anger, which made her even more scared."
Sokola, who is now in her 30s and a psychologist in Poland, was previously identified as Jane Doe in an earlier class-action lawsuit against Weinstein. In addition to Weinstein, she is also suing his brother Robert Weinstein, their company Miramax, and its parent company Disney.
Attorney Douglas Wigdor, who is representing Sokola, said he was able to file the lawsuit because New York state passed the Child Victims Act earlier this year, extending the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse. New York law now allows victims to pursue civil litigation until they turn 55; the previous statute of limitations was five years after they turned 18.
Sokola said in a statement, "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."
Last week, the NY Times reported that Weinstein and his film studio had struck a tentative $25 million settlement with the more than 30 actors and former employees who've accused the producer of sexual misconduct and abuse.
Wigdor and attorney Kevin Mintzer, who represent at least one other victim who opted out of the settlement and plan to pursue a civil case against him, said that settlement amount is far from sufficient. "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."
Sokola added, "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," she said. "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."
Weinstein's criminal trial is expected to begin January 6th. The former mogul was arrested in May 2018 and formally charged with rape, criminal sexual act, and predatory sexual assault, which stem from accusations of two women. One of them, Lucia Evans, originally told the New Yorker that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him at a casting meeting in 2004, when she was a college student. The rape charges stem from a separate 2013 incident, in which Weinstein allegedly kept a woman "physically against her will” and raped her.
Weinstein was in court earlier this week in an attempt to get a judge to dismiss a different lawsuit over an unpaid loan; his lawyer argued that Weinstein was experiencing too much back pain to "bear" another lawsuit.. And earlier this month a Manhattan judge raised his bail for allegedly tampering with his ankle monitor.