Jordan Freiman – CBS News
Harvey Weinstein and the board of his former film studio reached a tentative agreement Wednesday with more than 30 of his accusers on a $25 million settlement, according to The New York Times. If the deal was to go through, it would end many of the civil lawsuits brought against the disgraced movie producer.
According to the terms of the settlement, Weinstein — who has been accused of various forms of sexual misconduct, including rape — would not have to admit wrongdoing or pay any of his accusers with his own money, the Times reports. The women who have brought civil suits against him would instead split a pool of money paid by insurance companies representing The Weinstein Company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018.
The New York Times also reports 18 of Weinstein’s accusers would share $6.2 million, with none of the women receiving more than $500,000. Another $18.5 million would be split between accusers who are part of a class-action lawsuit against Weinstein, the New York attorney general’s case, and future claimants.
Elizabeth Fegan, one of the attorneys involved in the case, told The Associated Press the $25 million comes from a pool of $46.7 million stemming from The Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy proceedings. More than $12 million of the remaining money would be used to pay legal fees for Weinstein and his associates, The Washington Post reports.
While at least 29 accusers have agreed to the settlement, according to Fegan, the deal is facing considerable criticism and possibly further legal challenges.
“It is shameful that $12 million of the settlement is going to the lawyers for the directors who we alleged enabled Harvey Weinstein and it is even more outrageous that the proposed settlement will seek to bind non-participating members by providing a release to the insurance companies and the directors of the Weinstein Company itself,” attorney Douglas Wigdor said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“The most troubling aspect of this settlement is a punitive provision designed to force victims to settle,” Thomas Giuffra, another lawyer representing Weinstein accusers, said in a statement to the AP. “Shockingly, any funds that would have been allocated to claims from the settlement fund for non-settling claimants would be turned over to Harvey and Robert Weinstein to defend against their claims in court.”
Some accusers said they agreed to the terms of the settlement because they felt it would be tough to get a better deal.
“It’s mixed feelings,” Caitlin Dulany, who claims Weinstein sexually assaulted her in the 1990s, told The Washington Post. “I’m very sad that it’s not more for these victims, and there are so many … but I’m also really, really happy that it’s happening, both for the women and the potential it holds for the future.”
“I don’t love it, but I don’t know how to go after him,” Katherine Kendall, another accuser, told The New York Times. “I don’t know what I can really do.”
“This settlement is more than a math problem – it’s a symptom of a problematic, broken system that privileges powerful abusers at the expense of survivors,” Rebecca Goldman, Chief Operating Officer of the Time’s Up Foundation, said in a statement. “While this settlement is flawed, we know it represents the hard work of several survivors of Harvey Weinstein. We hope it brings them, and perhaps others, some small measure of justice and relief that is long overdue.”
The deal is far from done, however. An official agreement must be drawn up and approved by a judge in federal court in Delaware, which is handling The Weinstein Company bankruptcy proceedings, and a judge in federal court in New York. Several accusers refused to go along with the agreement and could challenge it in court.
Even if the deal were approved, it would not end Weinstein’s legal troubles.
Accusers who are not part of the settlement can still bring suits against him, including actress Ashley Judd. In January, a judge dismissed Judd’s sexual harassment claim against Weinstein, but stated she could continue with her defamation case against the disgraced producer.
Weinstein is also facing a criminal trial on rape and sexual assault charges. Weinstein was accused of forcibly performing oral sex on a woman in 2006 and raping another woman in 2013. Earlier on Wednesday, a judge increased Weinstein’s bail from $1 million to $5 million following allegations he had tampered with his electronic ankle monitor.
Weinstein’s trial is set to begin January 6, 2020.