Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has reached a $25 million settlement with dozens of women who accused him of sexual misconduct, one of the women’s lawyers told AFP on Wednesday. The once-powerful producer of “Pulp Fiction” and “Sin City”, whose case sparked the #MeToo movement against sex crimes, faces a criminal trial next month that could see him jailed for life.
The payout from a separate civil case will be shared among more than 30 actresses and former employees who have sued the 67-year-old for offenses ranging from sexual harassment to rape. Weinstein will not have to admit wrongdoing or pay from his own pocket, celebrity news portal TMZ said, with the bill instead being met by insurers for his bankrupt former movie studio, The Weinstein Company. The deal will have to be signed by all parties and get court approval to resolve almost every misconduct lawsuit brought against him since 2017 and insulate company directors from future liability.
Weinstein’s accusers include some of the world’s most famous actresses – including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek – although none is part of the proceedings. “Boardwalk Empire” actress Paz de la Huerta, who accused the producer of raping her in 2010, is expected to be part of the settlement, her lawyer Aaron Filler told AFP. The criminal claims against him involve just two accusers, meaning the civil settlement represents the only chance of justice for the many women who have accused Weinstein of abuse. But several accusers and their lawyers have denounced the deal.
“We plan to vigorously object to any provision that tries to bind victims who want to proceed with holding Harvey Weinstein accountable for his actions,” said lawyer Douglas Wigdor, who is representing two women in claims against the producer. Anti-sexual harassment campaign group Time’s Up, created in the wake of accusations against Weinstein, said it hoped that the settlement brought Weinstein’s victims “some small measure of long overdue justice” but added the size of the payout was inadequate. “If this is the best the survivors could get, the system is broken,” the group tweeted.
Weinstein faces a criminal trial in January on charges of rape and forcibly performing oral sex on a woman. Looking frail as he shuffled into a pre-trial hearing in Manhattan with a walking frame, he had his $1 million cash bail raised to $2 million in assets after prosecutors accused him of mishandling his ankle monitor. Weinstein’s legal team told the court he was scheduled to undergo surgery on Thursday to relieve back pain from an injury in an August car accident.
“He is in pain. He’s going to have surgery and he will be back in court on January 6,” said attorney Donna Rotunno. One of his accusers, 50-year-old Katherine Kendall, told The New York Times she was disappointed by the deal but had agreed to sign on because she didn’t want other women to miss out on the payout. “I don’t love it, but I don’t know how to go after him. I don’t know what I can really do,” said Kendall, who alleged that she was chased around by a naked Weinstein in his New York apartment.- AFP