Disney Sued for Enabling Harvey Weinstein and Sexual Assault

Julia Ormond lawsuit says Disney enabled Harvey Weinstein and sexual misconduct
Crdit: Canva, Disney, Thomas Hawk/ Flickr

While hearing that Harvey Weinstein is being sued over another sexual assault may be unpleasant, it is not surprising considering the infamous revelation of all his sexual assault crimes during the #MeToo movement. However, English actress Julia Ormond is not only suing Weinstein for his transgressions but also her former talent representation, Miramax, and The Walt Disney Company. Osmond claims Disney enabled Harvey Weinstein and ultimately turned a blind eye to his actions for the sake of profit.

Audiences can recognize Julia Ormond in her work with Miramax Films, the production company founded by Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein in the early 1990s. As a talented actress, Ormond starred in several acclaimed films, including Legends of the Fall (1994) and First Knight (1995), as well as notable productions like the hit TV series Mad Men and the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). More recently, fans can see Ormond in her work on The Walking Dead: World Beyond as Elizabeth Kublek.

Julia Ormond in The 'Walking Dead: World Beyond'
Credit: AMC

Julia Ormond’s sexual misconduct accusations are monumental because they not only name Weinstein for battery but Variety reports on the rarity “for business partners that profited from Weinstein’s work to be named as defendants for supposedly enabling his behavior.” A lawsuit was filed today in the New York Supreme Court about an incident involving Weinstein forcing Ormond to perform sexual acts in his hotel room after a business dinner in 1995.

After allegedly reporting the incident to her CAA (Creative Artists Agency) reps Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane, she was not protected and instead was advised to keep quiet about the incident. The Walt Disney Company owned Weinstein’s Miramax from 1993 to 2010 and is also being held accountable for its role in silencing the actress.

Julia Ormand is claiming “negligence and breach of fiduciary duty” against CAA and negligent “supervision and retention” against Disney. Even though some no longer work for Miramax or Disney, the lawsuit cites executives such as the CEO of Disney at the time, Michael Eisner, and chairman of Disney at the time, Jeffrey Katzenberg. They are, however, not named as defendants.

Julia Ormond in 'First Knight'
Credit: Colombia Pictures

Variety obtained a copy of the filed lawsuit. Here are a few excerpts:

The men at CAA who represented Ormond knew about Weinstein. So too did Weinstein’s employers at Miramax and Disney. 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…

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…

Our client has suffered tremendously both personally and professionally due to the assault by Harvey Weinstein, and the failure from Disney, Miramax and CAA to prevent it and to appropriately respond when she reported what happened…

CAA, Miramax, and Disney continued to handsomely profit from their close association with Harvey Weinstein for many years after Ormond was assaulted by him and then cast aside by Hollywood. But the damage to Ormond — and so many other women Harvey Weinstein went on to rape, assault, and harass — has yet to be fully understood.

Ormond claims that after reporting the incident to CAA, her contract with Miramax was terminated. While this incident and retaliation supposedly occurred almost 30 years ago, Ormond’s case falls under the Adult Survivors Act, which provides a pathway for adult survivors of sexual abuse who were unable to seek legal recourse due to existing statutes of limitations to file civil lawsuits against their abusers and the institutions that may have enabled or covered up the abuse. The act seeks to extend the statute of limitations for survivors, allowing them to pursue justice and seek compensation for the harm they experienced as adults. Its focus is on individuals who suffered abuse during their adulthood, as opposed to addressing cases of child sexual abuse that are covered under other laws.

Other women coming forward gave Ormond the courage to share her story, and she wants her experience to expose the big corporate workplace structures that work together to silence victims.

About Lana Porter

Lana has never lost a Disney Trivia night. Maybe it’s the hundreds of times she’s been to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, her love for Disney’s ’90’s era hand-animated musicals, or the fact that she’s often likened to cartoon characters, but Disney and its magic have a special place in her heart. Her favorite Disney experiences include the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, eating Mickey Bars on the PeopleMover, and crying during the Magic Kingdom fireworks show. One day she hopes to be chosen as the rebel spy on Star Tours. When Lana isn’t Park Hopping, she’s at home reading books of all topics, watching her favs on Disney+, or snuggling her two cats, which she swears are not named after Disney characters. She loves surprising people with her knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but admits she is still catching up with Star Wars. She is happy to combine her excitement for writing with her love for Disney-style storytelling and share what she can with the world!