NEW YORK, May 3 -- A New York State Supreme Court justice ruled Friday that Academy Award-winning actor George C. Scott does not have to give his side of the story in a sexual harassment suit brought by his former personal assistant until he undergoes surgery for a life- threatening condition. Julie Wright filed a $1 million lawsuit Thursday, claiming that the 68-year-old Scott repeatedly groped her breasts, tried to kiss her and made unwelcome lewd comments. Wright's attorney asked state Supreme Court Justice Alice Schlesinger to force Scott to give a deposition before he undergoes heart surgery to correct an aortic aneurysm. 'We believe it's important to preserve his testimony before he either leaves the jurisdiction or, God forbid, doesn't make it through surgery,' attorney Mark Alonso said Thursday. Scott's lawyer Friday presented an affidavit from the actor's personal physician in California warning that the stress of testifying in the lawsuit 'could cause Mr. Scott's aneurysm to burst and kill him. ' 'His aneurysm is a time bomb so long as it is left untreated,' Dr. L. Jeff Harris said in the court document. Scott's lawyer, Daniel Markewich, also stunned the court when he informed the judge that the actor left New York early Friday for California to see his physician. 'That was not a good idea,' Schlesinger told Markewich. But after hearing arguments from both lawyers and five minutes of deliberation, Schlesinger returned with her ruling. 'The application is denied,' Schlesinger said. 'I have to balance the prejudice to both sides.
I see little prejudice to the plaintiff to let this case proceed at its normal course,' Schlesinger said. 'Mr. Scott's doctor says there is a real danger for him to go ahead with the deposition...Clearly the balance is in Mr. Scott's favor.' Scott, who is currently starring on Broadway in the revival of 'Inherit the Wind,' bowed out of his performance Thursday night and his spokesman says he is not expected to return to the show until Tuesday. A source close to the production said Wright has not been seen in the Broadway theater for about six weeks. 'When a couple of people asked her who she was, she said she was (Scott's) daughter,' the source told United Press International. Wright, 26, said the film and stage star began making sexual advances to her a week after she accepted a job as his $1,500 per week personal assistant. Scott vehemently denied the charges, calling them 'absurd and completely untrue.' Scott is about to wrap up a critically well-received stint in 'Inherit the Wind.' The actor has been ill during the run and had to be replaced for 11 performances. He is probably best known for his role as Gen. George Patton in the film 'Patton.' The film earned him a best actor Oscar in 1970, which he refused, becoming the first person ever to do so. He also received and rejected two Oscar nominations for supporting roles in 'Anatomy of a Murder' and 'The Hustler,' calling the Academy Awards an 'annual orgy of self-adulation.' Scott has been married five times, twice to the late Colleen Dewhurst. Since 1972, he has been married to Trish Van Devere.