Nearly 40 women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault have agreed to a $17 million settlement with the bankruptcy court overseeing the class-action lawsuit against the disgraced and imprisoned producer.
For the most part, the new settlement — down significantly from the $44 million agreement first reported in May 2019 — would end the accusers’ four-year civil legal battle against Weinstein, although several women continue to pursue their own lawsuits against both the producer and the Weinstein Company.
“Eighty-three percent of the victims have expressed very loudly that they want closure through acceptance of this plan,” bankruptcy judge Mary F. Walrath said of the $17 million settlement in a hearing, the New York Times reports.
As per the settlement, Weinstein’s victims who accept the agreement will receive a full share from the $17 million sexual misconduct claims fund, while those who continue legal options against the former producer will only get a quarter-share. Accepting the settlement also absolves the Weinstein Company of any liability, a sticking point among the women who declined to join or will reject the $17 million settlement.
“The point award system pits women against women competing for a limited recovery from the pathetically meager sexual misconduct claims fund,” lawyers for victims against the settlement said in a court filing, the Associated Press reported. “There is nothing fair about a plan that requires a rape victim to release her rapist in order to receive a full reward from the sexual misconduct fund. There is nothing fair in re-victimizing her financially by reducing her award by 75% if she does not agree to release her rapist.”
However, attorney Paul Zumbro, who represents Weinstein victims in the lawsuit, told CNN his clients are “pleased with Judge Walrath’s ruling, and particularly so given there is now a mechanism that allows victims to receive compensation without having to endure the hardships and uncertainties of litigation.”
The bankruptcy court settlement includes an additional $9.7 million for legal fees, none of which will be used to reimburse Weinstein’s defense costs, CNN reported. Another $8.4 million will go to a liquidation trust for resolving outstanding non-sexual misconduct claims.
Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in a New York state prison in March 2020. The former movie mogul was found guilty of two charges in his sexual assault trial. Weinstein faced between five to 29 years following his conviction on charges of felony sex crime and third-degree rape; the former charge carried the five-to-25 year sentence, while the latter charge was punishable by a maximum four-year sentence. Soon after sentencing, Weinstein tested positive to Covid-19 while behind bars.
From Rolling Stone US