Weinstein’s bankrupt studio agrees to pay $24m to accusers under settlement

Harvey Weinstein’s bankrupt film studio has agreed a $47m settlement that will allocate more than $20m towards dozens of women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment, but does not require the convicted rapist to admit any wrongdoing. 

The deal, which settles lawsuits filed by the New York attorney-general as well as individual women, allocates more than $12m towards paying the legal fees for the Weinstein Company defendants, $7m for creditors and $24m towards Weinstein’s accusers. The Weinstein Company’s insurers are covering the settlement costs.

The deal releases accusers from any non-disclosure agreements with the Weinstein Company. It also includes a clause that the settlement does not mean the defendants are “admitting any wrongdoing, liability, fault or violation of law”. 

Tuesday’s agreement is unrelated to a New York criminal court case that found Weinstein guilty of sexual assault and third-degree rape, sending the former movie mogul to prison for 23 years. 

The New York attorney-general touted the settlement, which must be approved by a bankruptcy and federal district court, as a victory. “These survivors are finally receiving some justice,” said Letitia James, calling the deal “a win for every woman who has experienced sexual harassment, discrimination, intimidation, or retaliation by her employer”.

However, some accusers rejected the settlement, including actress Wedil David, who accused Weinstein of rape. Her lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, called the settlement a “complete sellout”, complaining that Weinstein “accepts no responsibility for his actions” and the payments will come from the Weinstein Company’s insurers, not Weinstein himself. 

Since accusers began speaking out against Weinstein in 2017, dozens of lawsuits have been filed by women against the film producer, including a class action and individual cases.

The New York attorney-general’s case has been fraught, after a previous $90m settlement fell apart when Eric Schneiderman, the previous New York attorney-general who was overseeing settlement negotiations, stepped down over accusations of his own sexual misconduct.

To claim their share of the settlement money, women must submit a form detailing their experience and documentation to support it. The court will divide accusers into two tiers, with one group eligible for up to $150,000 and another group able to receive up to $750,000. The claim form includes dozens of detailed questions about their encounters with Weinstein, such as whether he disrobed during a meeting, locked them in a room or physically restrained them. 

Weinstein in February was found guilty of criminal sexual assault and third-degree rape in a New York court, in a verdict that was viewed as a landmark legal test of the #MeToo movement. He also faces criminal charges in Los Angeles, underscoring the scope of accusations against him. 

Weinstein has denied the charges. His lawyer Imran Ansari said Weinstein “remains intently focused in defending himself on all remaining legal matters, including the appeal of his criminal conviction, civil lawsuits, and the charges filed against him in LA.”

Donna Rotunno, the lawyer who led his defence in criminal court in New York, declined to comment.

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