Film producer ordered to pay $3 mln in sex scandal

LOS ANGELES Sat Aug 27, 2011 6:52am IST

Film producer Jon Peters reaches in Hollywood in this May 1, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files

Film producer Jon Peters reaches in Hollywood in this May 1, 2007 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser/Files

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A jury found movie producer Jon Peters was guilty on Friday of sexual harassment and ordered the man behind films such as "Batman" to pay more than $3 million to a former personal assistant.

The nine-woman, three-man panel awarded Shelly Morita $822,000 in compensatory damages. They found that Peters created a hostile work environment and acted with malice, which led to a second phase of the trial in which they awarded the Morita an additional $2.5 million.

Peters, a onetime hairdresser turned movie mogul whose producing credits include "The Color Purple," "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and "Superman Returns," was not present for the verdicts. Along with former business partner Peter Guber, he also ran Sony Pictures movie studio for a time.

Morita, a 44-year-old single mother, sued Peters and his company, J.P. Organization Inc., in December 2006.

She claimed he inappropriately touched her and alleged that he crawled into bed with her when they were in Australia during the filming of "Superman Returns."

In his testimony, Peters, 66, denied any wrongdoing. His attorney said the verdicts will be appealed.

(Reporting and writing by Sheri Linden; Edited by Bob Tourtellotte)

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