Film producer Harvey Weinstein and his former studio’s board members have reached a tentative $44 million deal to resolve civil lawsuits with women who accused him of sexual harassment and misconduct, CNN reported on Friday.
The proposed settlement allocates about $14 million for legal fees to Weinstein’s associates who have been named as co-defendants in several of the suits. The remaining $30 million will go to alleged victims, and former employees of the Weinstein Company, an unidentified source with knowledge of the settlement told CNN. The proposed settlement will be considered by a judge on June 4.
The lawsuits are one of the main ways by which Weinstein could be held responsible for his alleged actions. Over 80 women have accused him of sexual misconduct. Many of the complaints involve sexual harassment, which is a civil violation, not a criminal one.
The names of the women who are involved in the settlement have not been released. Actress Ashley Judd, one of the first women to come forward with allegations against the producer, distanced herself from the settlement. She tweeted that her separate legal case against Weinstein was ongoing and she intended to take him to trial.
The settlement is “symbolic in the sense that they have agreed to pay a lot of money... which seems to imply that they did something wrong,” former prosecutor and law professor Bennett Gershman told AFP.
If any of the women involved in the settlement are called to testify, Weinstein’s defense team could seek to discredit them as solely in it for the money, Julie Rendelman, a New York attorney said, adding that the settlement could pose a challenge to prosecutors.
The settlement will not affect Weinstein’s criminal trial, which is set to begin on September 9. Weinstein has been indicted on multiple charges of rape and assault. He has been charged with first and third degree rape, and a criminal sexual act in the first degree. He faces between five and 25 years in prison if proven guilty of the most serious crimes.
The allegations of sexual assault were first reported by The New York Times and The New Yorker in 2017, which led to the #MeToo and Times Up movements. The movements seek to expose sexual harassment and assault, especially at workplace.
Since the allegations against Weinstein became public, several people from within the American film industry and outside accused actors and directors such as Dustin Hoffman, Brett Ratner, Geoffrey Rush, Ryan Seacrest, Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman of harassment.