Monday, July 22, 2024

Judge Says Sex Trafficking Lawsuit Against James Dolan Needs Amendment

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A federal judge is giving a massage therapist two weeks to adequately allege a commercial sex act in her sex trafficking lawsuit naming entertainment mogul James Dolan and disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein — or face permanent dismissal of her claims in federal court.

In a new ruling obtained by Rolling Stone, the judge agreed with Dolan’s lawyers that plaintiff Kellye Croft’s first amended complaint, filed in April, is “devoid” of the necessary threshold allegations that Dolan coerced her into a commercial sex act with something of value, such as “promises of career support or advancement.” U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson gave Croft until July 8 to file a second amended complaint with enough facts to support a claim under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

“Because plaintiff does not allege that Dolan made any direct statements or promises to entice, lure or coerce her into a sexual relationship, she fails to allege a commercial sex act premised on alleged promises of career advancement,” the judge wrote in his ruling.

If Croft successfully amends her complaint, the lawsuit will remain in federal court. However, if she and her lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, miss the court’s deadline to file a new version with a “viable federal claim” for sex trafficking, that claim would be dismissed with prejudice — meaning it can’t be filed again, the judge said. Croft’s separate state law claims for sexual battery and aiding and abetting sexual assault, meanwhile, would be dismissed without prejudice “so that those claims could be pursued in state court,” the judge ruled.

A spokesperson for Dolan said the ruling proved “there is absolutely no merit to any of the allegations against Mr. Dolan.” The rep claimed Wigdor, Croft’s lawyer, has a “vendetta against Mr. Dolan and Madison Square Garden.” Wigdor did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.

In her lawsuit first filed in January, Croft alleged she was a 27-year-old massage therapist working for Glenn Frey of the legendary rock band the Eagles when she first met a 58-year-old Dolan in 2013. Croft was traveling with the Eagles for their tour, History of the Eagles – Live in Concert, and Dolan (who is also a musician) was opening for the Eagles with his blues-rock band JD & the Straight Shot, her lawsuit stated.

According to Croft’s complaint, Dolan booked a massage with her, became “extremely assertive” and “pressured (her) into unwanted sexual intercourse with him.” She alleged Dolan “summoned” her to his room multiple times during the tour and made “unwelcome advances.” She said that because of Dolan’s “immense power over everyone’s position on the tour,” she felt “obligated to submit to sex with him.”

Croft alleged that at the end of 2013, a company owned by the Eagles manager Irving Azoff flew her out to California to work for the Eagles and Frey during their residency at the Forum. “She later learned that she was working for both the Eagles and Dolan,” the lawsuit stated. Since the California-based band already had their own personal masseuses in L.A., Croft alleged she was brought in “for the purposes of engaging in unwanted sexual acts with Dolan.” (A rep for Azoff previously told Rolling Stone that “neither he nor his companies had any involvement in any alleged misconduct by others,” adding that “Irving Azoff is not a party to this lawsuit.” The Azoff Company, meanwhile, is a named defendant.)

While in Los Angeles, Croft alleged she met Weinstein near some elevators at the Peninsula Hotel and that Weinstein already seemed to know who she was. She alleged Weinstein eventually forced his way into her hotel room and attacked her.

“Weinstein then backed Ms. Croft onto the bed, forced her down, and forced her legs open,” her lawsuit claimed. “Standing between her legs, he undid his robe, and shoved his fingers inside of her, using his other hand to hold her down. He tried to force his penis inside of her, although he struggled to do so.”

Dolan allegedly interrupted the purported assault with a phone call and summoned her, according to the suit. When they met, she told him what had happened, she said. “Dolan responded to Ms. Croft’s report of sexual assault in a completely matter-of-fact tone, noting that Weinstein was ‘a troubled person’ that had a lot of ‘serious issues,’ but that his friends were ‘trying to get him to address’ those issues,” the suit claimed. “Dolan intimated that Weinstein was not a ‘safe’ person but did little to console Ms. Croft or help her to report the assault to the authorities,” the lawsuit alleged.


A lawyer for Weinstein did not respond to a request for comment. Weinstein, 72, is currently serving a 16-year sentence for his 2022 conviction on one count of rape and two counts of sexual assault in California. In April, New York’s top court overturned his Manhattan-based sex crimes conviction in a surprise move.

Dolan vehemently denies the allegations from Croft. “There is absolutely no merit to any of the allegations against Mr. Dolan,” Dolan’s lawyer, E. Danya Perry, previously told Rolling Stone. “Kellye Croft and James Dolan had a friendship. The references to Harvey Weinstein are simply meant to inflame and appear to be plagiarized from prior cases against Mr. Weinstein. These claims reflect an act of retaliation by an attorney who has brought multiple cases against Mr. Dolan and has not, and cannot, win a judgment against him. Mr. Dolan always believed Ms. Croft to be a good person and is surprised she would agree to these claims. Bottom line, this is not a he said/she said matter and there is compelling evidence to back up our position. We look forward to proving that in court.”

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