Harvey Weinstein Survivors Have Been Awarded a $19 Million Settlement—Here’s What That Means
Not everyone believes it's a true act of justice.
On Tuesday, the New York Attorney General's office announced that survivors of Harvey Weinstein's sex crimes have been awarded an $18.875 million settlement as part of two separate lawsuits. If approved by the court, the settlement will create a victims' fund which would allow all women abused by the imprisoned former movie mogul to make claims for damages confidentially, if they choose to do so.
Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year sentence for the sexual assault and rape of two women, Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann, but more than 100 women have come forward with sexual harassment and assault allegations against him. The settlement also releases women from NDAs they signed that are related to sexual misconduct by Weinstein, according to People. This may encourage more women to speak up about their experiences.
Attorney General Letitia James announced the settlement, stating that "after all the harassment, threats and discrimination, these survivors are finally receiving some justice," Variety reports.
She continued, “For more than two years, my office has fought tirelessly in the pursuit of justice for the women whose lives were upended by Harvey Weinstein. This agreement is a win for every woman who has experienced sexual harassment, discrimination, intimidation, or retaliation by her employer." James also thanked survivors who have contributed to the fight for justice.
The settlement is a resolution for two lawsuits: one against Weinstein, Bob Weinstein, and The Weinstein Company, which was filed in Feb. 2018 by the office of the Attorney General, and a separate November 2017 class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of the survivors of Weinstein's sex crimes. In a 38-page complaint filed by the office of the New York Attorney General, The Weinstein Company was accused of violating gender discrimination laws, stating that it “repeatedly and persistently treated female employees less well than male employees through gender-based, hostile workplace harassment, quid pro quo harassment, and discrimination.”
In the statement released by the New York Attorney General's office, one survivor, Louisette Geiss, spoke out about the "trail of trauma" Weinstein left behind for various women and emphasized the significance of the survivors' fund. “This important act of solidarity allowed us to use our collective voice to help those who had been silenced and to give back to the many, many survivors who lost their careers and more."
Geiss continued: "There is no amount of money that can make up for this injustice, but I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished today.”
However, not everyone believes this move is a true act of justice. Attorneys Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer—who represent survivors Tarale Wulff, Rowena Chiu, Zelda Perkins, Wedil David, Dominique Huett, and Kaja Sokola—released a statement calling the settlement a "complete sellout," Variety reports. The statement argues that the settlement fails to hold Weinstein directly accountable for his actions.
They continued: "Fourth, if this settlement were approved by the courts, survivors who do not wish to participate in the settlement but would prefer instead to hold Harvey Weinstein accountable, will be unable to pursue the multi-billion dollar insurance companies and the directors because they will receive legal releases. And fifth, the class action lawyers will be seeking millions of dollars in fees for an objectively unsuccessful result. We are completely astounded that the Attorney General is taking a victory lap for this unfair and inequitable proposal, and on behalf of our clients, we will be vigorously objecting in court.”
Weinstein is currently serving his 23-year sentence in New York.