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Woman rejects group settlement, sues Weinstein over sex assault

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New York (AFP)

A woman who alleges disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her when she was 16 filed suit against him on Thursday and rejected a settlement reached by other accusers.

Kaja Sokola said the $25 million settlement with dozens of women, designed to resolve almost every misconduct lawsuit brought against Weinstein, is neither fair nor just.

"Therefore, today I am filing my own case, in my own name," Sokola, 33, said in a statement issued through her lawyer.

Sokola, a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist in Poland, said she originally included her case under a pseudonym as part of a 2018 class action suit against Weinstein, his companies and associates.

But after last week's announcement that his lawyers had reached the settlement with other alleged victims she decided to file suit in New York under her own name.

Sokola said she moved to New York at 16 to work as a model and try to achieve her dream of becoming an actress.

Her 23-page claim said she was introduced to Weinstein in September 2002. He invited her to dinner, allegedly leading her to believe that he wanted to help her career.

Instead of taking her to a restaurant, he brought Sokola to his residence where he "sexually abused" her, according to the allegations.

Although the accusations date from 17 years ago, a New York law which took effect in August opened a one-year window for child sex abuse victims of any age to file a civil case, no matter how long ago it took place.

Sokola is claiming unspecified damages.

- 17 years of pain -

"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," her lawyer Douglas Wigdor said in a statement.

He noted that "others may have decided to settle, albeit under some of the most offensive and one-sided terms."

That deal needs to be signed by all parties and get court approval.

Among the nearly 90 women who accused Weinstein of sexual assault or harassment are some of the world's most famous actresses -- including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek -- although none is part of the group settlement.

The anti-sexual harassment campaign group Time's Up was formed in the wake of accusations against Weinstein. It said it hoped that the settlement brought Weinstein's victims "some small measure of long overdue justice" but added the payout was inadequate.

Sokola's claim has no effect on a criminal case against Weinstein which is to begin on January 6.

He has pleaded not guilty to five charges of sexual assault relating to two women. One of the women alleges Weinstein raped her in 2013, while the other claims he forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006.

In her statement, Sokola said that because of Weinstein she abandoned her dreams of acting.

"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," she said.

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