The name Harvey Weinstein, once synonymous with quality movie-making, is now more associated with the term “sexual predator.” More than 30 actresses and former employees will share in a tentative $25 million settlement between Weinstein and the board of his bankrupt film company, The Weinstein Co.
Under the settlement, Weinstein, 67, would not have to admit fault. He also would not pay the women out of pocket. The overall settlement is actually $47 million, but $12 million would pay some of Weinstein’s legal bills.
The money would come from Weinstein Co.’s insurers as part of its bankruptcy proceedings. The deal requires approval from a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Delaware, as well as a New York federal judge.
Victims Disagree on Settlement
Many of Weinstein’s victims, some of whom were attacked or harassed by him decades ago, feel the settlement offer is the best for which they can hope. One actress alleging Weinstein sexually assaulted her in the 1990s says the settlement could set a precedent for sexual assault victims, even though it was not “perfect.” Her claim, like some of the others, is also outside New York’s statute of limitations for sexual assault, so the women would not otherwise receive compensation.
Another actress who claims Weinstein chased her around his New York apartment naked after inviting her there to discuss a job, says the settlement’s terms were disappointing. Still, she wanted the other women to get whatever they could in recompense. She adds she does not know how else she could go after Weinstein.
A lawyer representing a former Weinstein employee says that prior failures to negotiate a settlement put the women in a weaker position, and if they did not accept these terms, they might not receive anything. She calls it the best they could do under the circumstances.
In 2017, an investor group came close to purchasing the Weinstein Co.’s assets, and that deal would have included a $90 million fund for victim compensation. A civil rights lawsuit filed by then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against Weinstein and his brother Robert, along with the company, for the exploitative treatment of their employees and lack of accuser protection doomed those negotiations. Ironically, Schneiderman later resigned his post after accusations surfaced of his physically abusing women.
Other victims are not settling. Four have already declared they are not participating, including TV producer Alexandra Canosa. She says Weinstein raped her repeatedly over five years, along with threatening her. Her attorney says the proposed deal is neither fair nor just.
Another lawyer representing a woman who turned the deal down was especially critical of the $12 million going to pay Weinstein’s legal fees, deeming the payment “shameful.”
Several well-known actresses, including Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie, accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or abuse, but they are not included in the settlement. Judd, however, has said she intends to take Weinstein to trial.
January Trial Date Set
On another front, Weinstein’s New York City trial on charges of sexual assault against two women is scheduled to start in January. If convicted, Weinstein faces life in prison. On December 11, a state judge doubled the amount of Weinstein’s bail from one to two million dollars, after prosecutors accused the former movie mogul of disabling his electronic ankle monitor.
As a result, they said there were times they had no idea of Weinstein’s whereabouts. Weinstein’s lawyers blamed the device, claiming technical glitches caused the signal loss, not their client’s actions. Weinstein has repeatedly denied all the sexual assault charges against him.
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