Harvey Weinstein won’t admit wrongdoing under tentative $25 million settlement with more than 30 survivors
It’s been two years since the #MeToo movement struck down Harvey Weinstein, the now-disgraced Hollywood film producer who was accused of sexual harassment, and in some cases rape, by dozens of women. Now, Weinstein and the board of his bankrupt film studio, the Weinstein Company, have reached a tentative $25 million settlement agreement with more than half of his alleged survivors.
According to the New York Times, if the settlement goes through, Weinstein would not have to admit wrongdoing nor would he have to pay anything to his accusers out of his own pocket.
Furthermore, the settlement states that 18 of the alleged survivors would split $6.2 million, meaning that, when all is said and done, no one would receive more than $500,000. Another $18.5 million would be put aside for women who are part of a class-action case, the New York attorney general’s suit, and any future claimants, and would be doled out to said potential recipients based on the severity of Weinstein’s alleged harm to them.
This payout would also be part of a larger settlement of $47 million, the majority of which would be used to close out the Weinstein Company’s obligations before it completely goes under, according to the Times. And another $12 million would go toward some of Weinstein’s and his cronies’ legal costs.
Paying women to step down is not the way we wanted this to go. However, some Weinstein accusers feel that it’s the only available avenue.
“I don’t love it,” one of Weinstein’s alleged survivors, Katherine Kendall, said per the Times, “but I don’t know how to go after him. I don’t know what I can really do.”
Sexual harassment lawyer Genie Harrison, who represents former Weinstein assistant Sandeep Rehal, told the Times that waiting for a better option could have resulted in accusers leaving the fight completely empty-handed.
Preliminary legal rulings against several plaintiffs, protective liability laws for boards, and previous failed settlement attempts put the accusers in a weak bargaining position, the Times reports. And Harrison doesn’t believe there’s a “markedly better deal to be made.”
"We have really, truly done the best we can under the circumstances, and it’s important for other victims to know this, come forward and be able to get the best level of compensation we were able to get," Harrison said.
However, even if this tentative settlement goes through, and dozens of his alleged survivors are paid to drop their charges against him, Weinstein is not legally in the clear by any means. Actress and alleged Weinstein survivor Ashley Judd has filed a separate lawsuit, and she intends to keep her suit out of the settlement in order to take Weinstein to trial.
Furthermore, producer Alexandra Canosa and actress Wedil David, who both brought civil suits against Weinstein, will challenge the tentative settlement agreement. David’s lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, told the Times he objects to the current agreement. He says there is a clause that states that if Canosa and David do not participate, $1 million from the settlement fund could be used by Weinstein for his own defense costs, and Canosa and David would be prevented from going after Weinstein board members or insurance companies.
“What’s most offensive is that they’re trying to force our client to settle,” Wigdor said.
Before the settlement moves forward, lawyers must write up an official agreement and gain approval from at least two federal judges—one in Delaware and one in New York. Even after doing so, the agreement could still break apart if enough of the accusers’ lawyers object to the terms.
This is certainly not the kind of justice most survivors and the general public wished to see served at the end of this saga. Former model and Weinstein accuser Zoe Brock expressed via the Times that agreeing to the settlement made her feel “defeated and hopeless,” due to the fact that neither Weinstein nor his former board members would be required to pay the victims.
But fellow accuser Caitlin Dulany sees the silver lining in the Weinstein settlement. "Many of us are outside the statute of limitations, and we can’t have our day in criminal court with Harvey," she said, per the Times, adding that even a flawed settlement could "bring some justice and relief."
Weinstein will still face a criminal trial in New York, which centers around two separate charges of rape.
Sadly, we can’t say we’re surprised that Weinstein is attempting to, and will likely be successful in, wriggling his way out of the dozens of accusations against him by waving money in front of those he hurt. Our only hope is that those women involved in the settlement find some kind of peace with the outcome and continue to stand behind those who plan to pursue Weinstein outside of the settlement and inside the courtroom.