An agreement has been reached to settle for nearly $US19 million ($28 million) two sexual misconduct lawsuits on behalf of multiple women against imprisoned former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
But lawyers representing six of the women who have accused Weinstein called the proposed deal a “complete sellout” that did not require the 68-year-old former film producer to accept responsibility or pay out of his own pocket.
The settlement, which still must be approved by a federal judge and a bankruptcy court, would resolve a class-action lawsuit filed against Weinstein, his production company and his brother in 2018 by the New York Attorney-General’s office.
It would also bring an end to a separate class-action lawsuit brought in 2017 on behalf of nine women who accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault, New York Attorney-General Letitia James said on Tuesday (local time).
#BREAKING: We helped secure $19 million for survivors of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse and harassment.
Women who were forced to sign confidentiality agreements will also be freed from those clauses and finally be able to speak.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) July 1, 2020
“After all the harassment, threats, and discrimination, these survivors are finally receiving some semblance of justice,” Ms James said on Twitter.
She said the deal would release the women from non-disclosure agreements that prevented them from speaking publicly about Weinstein, once one of Hollywood’s most powerful men.
A lawyer who represented the class of women who brought the 2017 lawsuit, Whitney Siehl, called her clients heroes who had “ignited a movement” by going public with their accusations.
But lawyers Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer said the settlement was “deeply unfair” to their clients and other women who would have no right to pursue claims against Weinstein and others in court.
“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,” Wigdor and Mintzer said in written statement.
Weinstein was found guilty in Manhattan criminal court in February of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann, convictions hailed as a victory for the #MeToo movement. He was sentenced the next month to 23 years in prison.
Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 100 women stretching back decades, still faces trial on rape and sexual assault charges in Los Angeles.