A former model filed a civil lawsuit on Thursday against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, accusing him of sexually assaulting her in his New York City apartment when she was 16.
Kaja Sokola, now 33, is suing Weinstein under the Child Victims Act, which has given adult survivors of child sexual abuse a one-year period to seek justice in New York, even if the statute of limitations has long expired.
“I know that this lawsuit cannot erase the pain that I have been living with for 17 years,” she wrote in a statement, adding, “But I do hope to achieve at least some measure of justice that has still been denied to Harvey Weinstein’s many victims.”
Sokola said she had just moved to New York from Poland in 2002 to pursue an acting career when she met the then-highly acclaimed film producer at a modeling event.
Weinstein invited her to lunch a few days later, which “amazed and excited” her at the time, according to the suit. But instead of going out to lunch, he picked her up in his company-owned car and brought her to his SoHo apartment. She allegedly told him during the car ride that she was only 16.
Once they were alone, the suit says that Weinstein “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.”
Weinstein allegedly ordered her to take off her blouse, unzip her jeans, then proceeded to touch her and directed her to touch herself. He forced her to take off his pants and touch his genitals while he molested her breasts, the lawsuit says.
“Harvey Weinstein’s demeanor became intense, as if he was hunting prey,” the lawsuit states, adding, “Sokola realized then he was determined to sexually satisfy himself with her in whatever way he wanted.”
Sokola was “terrified” and headed for the door, but Weinstein allegedly barred her from leaving and told her that he had “made” the careers of A-list actresses like Penelope Cruz and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Weinstein allegedly contacted her after the abuse, making her feel like he was the only one she could rely on to help her become an actress. The sexual assault, the suit says, “took a toll on Sokola, including long term depression, anorexia and difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships with men.”
Sokola said she gave up on her dreams of becoming an actor because of the abuse.
“I am grateful to do important work as a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist,” she said in a statement. “As part of my professional education and experience, I have learned that some wounds never fully heal.”
In addition to Weinstein, the lawsuit also lists Bob Weinstein, The Walt Disney Company, Disney Enterprises, and Miramax as defendants. The Child Victims Act gives Sokola the opportunity to be one of the few Weinstein accusers to hold the Walt Disney Company accountable for his abuse. Disney bought Miramax Films—co-founded by Weinstein—in 1993 and then sold it in 2010.
Her lawsuit alleges that Miramax, Disney, and Bob Weinstein enabled the movie mogul and ignored claims that he sexually assaulted women.
Weinstein, who has been charged with raping a woman in 2013 and forcing a sex act on another woman in 2006, is set to stand trial on Jan. 6 in New York City. More than 90 women have accused him of sexual misconduct.
Sokola’s lawsuit was filed in Manhattan state court after she became one of a few alleged Weinstein victims to reject a $25 million tentative settlement agreement reached last week by the disgraced producer and dozens of his accusers. The proposed settlement would not require Weinstein to admit any guilt and it would be paid by the insurance company representing his bankrupt former studio, according to lawyers involved in the negotiations.
Sokola said in her statement that she “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,” she added.