Former film producer Harvey Weinstein and his former studio
reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday to put an end to almost every sexual misconduct lawsuit he is facing, The New York Times reported.
The deal will reportedly not require Weinstein to admit to wrongdoing or make any direct payments to those who levelled allegations against him. However, the producer will still face trial for allegedly sexually assaulting two women. It is expected to begin in January 2020.
The proposed global legal deal has received initial approval from the major parties in the matter, lawyers involved in the negotiations told the newspaper. More than 30 actresses and former employees of the Hollywood producer would get their shares in the settlement.
The agreement will be finalised after court approval and a final assent of the parties. Insurance companies that represent Weinstein’s former studio, Weinstein Company, will pay the settlement amount as the firm is embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings. Under the purported agreement, the women had to raise their claims along with the studio’s creditors.
“The payout to the accusers would be part of an overall $47 million settlement intended to close out the company’s obligations, according to a half-dozen lawyers,” the report said.
Louisette Geiss, a plaintiff in a Manhattan court’s class-action case, said the agreement was a “way to hold all women up”, Associated Press reported. The news agency said it had also received confirmation on the deal.
Katherine Kendall, one of the accusers, said she was disappointed with the deal but agreed to it as she did not want to stop other plaintiffs from getting compensation.
Geiss said the agreement was a way to establish a new reality that Weinstein’s behaviour was not acceptable. “Now that the Weinstein Company is in bankruptcy and Harvey is about to stand to trial, this settlement will ensure that all survivors have the chance for recovery and can move forward without Harvey’s damaging lock on their careers,” she said.
However, Attorney Thomas Giuffra said the deal was similar to the one announced several months back and its most distressing element was a “punitive provision” that was structured to force complainants to settle. Giuffra said it was understandable that the women who made the allegations were emotionally drained due to the process, adding that the proposed deal did not have scope of a voluntary choice.
“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,” he added.
Lawyers Kevon Mintzer and Douglas H Wigdor put out statements saying that it was not the best possible settlement, and that it was “shameful that $12 million of the settlement” will be paid to the lawyers of the directors who allegedly enabled Weinstein’s behaviour.
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 sought 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 misconduct.