Kaja Sokola says she was 16 when she met Harvey Weinstein at an event her modeling agency held in September 2002. Having just moved from Poland to New York City, the would-be actress was grateful when the co-head of Miramax offered to take her out for lunch, purportedly to talk about her career prospects. But that’s not what happened when he picked her up a few days later, according to a new sex-abuse lawsuit filed under New York’s Child Victim Act. Weinstein, who would have been 50 at the time, allegedly took the teen not to a restaurant but to his Soho apartment. There, the lawsuit states, Weinstein “wasted no time in aggressively and threateningly demanding 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 lawsuit says. “Terrified,” Sokola says, she complied; she claims Weinstein made her touch her genitals as well as his, forcing her, over her repeated protests, to massage his penis. “Weinstein’s demeanor became intense, as if he was hunting prey,” the filing states, and when Sokola tried to leave, he allegedly blocked the door. “Holding her arms and yelling at her to calm down,” the filing argues, “Weinstein insisted that what had just happened was normal.”
Indeed, over 80 women have publicly accused the disgraced movie mogul of sexual abuse similar to what Sokola’s lawsuit describes. (Weinstein has repeatedly denied “any nonconsensual sex.”) As a Jane Doe, Sokola signed on to a class-action lawsuit against Weinstein last year but decided to sue him herself rather than accept an unsatisfying $25 million settlement to be split between 30 women. Notably, the agreement would not have compelled Weinstein to admit personal wrongdoing.
“I cannot accept the proposed ‘global settlement’ as fair or just,” Sokola said in a statement circulated by her attorney, Douglas Wigdor. “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.”
Sokola’s suit says, “Weinstein made clear that refusing his sexual demands would mean giving up the opportunity to make it in Hollywood.” As he continued to pursue Sokola in the days and weeks that followed, she says her “fear and anxiety” about the producer heightened, leaving her with “long-term depression, anorexia, and difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships with men.” Because of Weinstein’s alleged abuse, Sokola says she gave up on modeling and acting, choosing to become a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist instead. Her civil suit asks unspecified damages and names other actors; Weinstein’s brother and business partner, Robert; and Miramax and Disney, which bought Miramax — which, Sokola believes, helped cover up the producer’s pattern of predation.
Meanwhile, Weinstein’s criminal trial on charges of rape and sexual assault begins on January 6. He has pleaded not guilty.