Judge tosses out ‘Romeo & Juliet’ underage nude scene lawsuit
A child abuse lawsuit filed by the stars of 1968′s “Romeo & Juliet” over an underage nude scene has been thrown out.
Olivia Hussey, who played Juliet at age 15 and is now 72, and Leonard Whiting, who played Romeo at 16 and is also 72, sued Paramount Pictures earlier this year and claimed the film’s nude scene was child pornography.
The actors said director Franco Zeffirelli coerced them into performing nude. They also claim they were told the nudity would not appear on camera.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Alison Mackenzie ruled that the film was protected by the First Amendment and that the actors “have not put forth any authority showing the film here can be deemed to be sufficiently sexually suggestive as a matter of law to be held to be conclusively illegal.”
Mackenzie also declared that the suit was not covered by a California law that temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, even though the film was re-released by the Criterion Collection in February.
An attorney for the actors said they plan to refile the lawsuit in federal court.
“We firmly believe that the exploitation and sexualization of minors in the film industry must be confronted and legally addressed to protect vulnerable individuals from harm and ensure the enforcement of existing laws,” lawyer Solomon Gresen said in a statement.
The actors originally sought more than $500 million in damages for decades of emotional damage and mental anguish.
With News Wire Services