Dozens of women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment have agreed to a final $24 million settlement with the now-bankrupt Weinstein Company, bringing them closer to receiving some form of restitution for the crimes they said were perpetrated against them by the once-powerful movie mogul.
The settlement, which was filed on Tuesday and is pending a judge’s approval on July 14, comes after a nearly three-year process that has combined the New York Attorney General’s civil suit with a class-action lawsuit led by nine women and 14 individual cases against The Weinstein Company tied to the studio’s bankruptcy.
Last December, prior to the start of Weinstein’s criminal trial in New York, the global settlement had received tentative approval from its major parties. But for some, the terms of the settlement were not favorable enough, leading a few to drop out entirely and pursue their own civil lawsuits.
The $24 million settlement for Weinstein’s accusers is essentially divided into two pools of funding: an $18.9 million victims’ fund and a $5.4 million settlement for 14 individual victims. (None of the 14 individuals would receive any more than $500,000.)
The settlement documents, obtained by TheWrap, state, “Pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreements, the Insurance Companies shall pay, on behalf of the Released Parties: (i) the aggregate Cash amount of the Class Action Settlement Fund ($18,875,000); (ii) the aggregate Cash amount of the Individual Plaintiffs’ Settlement Fund ($5,400,000).”
If approved, the $18.9 million portion — stemming from the class-action lawsuit and the AG’s civil suit — would create a fund that will allow individuals who say they were harmed by Weinstein to come forward and make claims within a certain time frame determined by a judge. The claims would then be split into two tiers, with amounts being determined by a court-appointed, neutral and trauma-informed special master. Tier One would allow an individual to receive a payment between $7,500 to $150,000 if they submit a form describing their experience, the impact, and/or the damages they say they have suffered. The claimant may also include documentation in support of their account. Tier Two would allow a victim to receive a payment between $7,500 and $750,000 if they submit a claim form and documentation in support of their account, as well as agree to be interviewed about the incident and how they’ve been impacted by it.
“We didn’t want women to have to be retraumatized or participate in a way they were uncomfortable with,” Beth Fegan, one of the lead attorneys for the class action, told TheWrap. “Women can make choices about how much time they want to invest, and it may affect their compensation … [but] we really wanted women to feel comfortable no matter how much or how little they wanted to participate in the process.”
And as part of the agreement, according to the filing, any of the women who had nondisclosure agreements with The Weinstein Company related to any sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein would also be released from those agreements, should the settlement be approved.
The $24 million allocated to Weinstein’s accusers is part of a nearly $47 million settlement designed to close out The Weinstein Company’s financial obligations. Given that the settlement is tied to the bankruptcy of TWC, insurance companies for TWC will be making these payments, not Harvey Weinstein himself, who is serving a 23-year prison sentence in New York after being convicted of rape and a criminal sexual act. He faces additional criminal charges in Los Angeles.
Gerald Maatman, lead counsel for the Weinstein Companies, declined to comment to the Associated Press.
For many of the women in the class-action lawsuit — which was divided into a “Miramax class” for incidents that occurred before 2005 and a “Weinstein Company class” for those that happened from 2005 to the present — the creation of the victims’ fund was a victory, given that it will allow more women to receive some justice.
“For all of these women, many of whom, myself included, have claims that are outside of the statute of limitations, we will never see our day in court. So it is a measure of relief and justice that we would otherwise not see,” actress Caitlin Dulany, a lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit who said Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 1996, told TheWrap. “We know it’s not enough and it will never be enough for the women that were harmed. I don’t know if any amount of money is really enough. But the fact that we made it happen, hopefully, says something about preventing these kinds of situations in the future.”
Louisette Geiss, another lead plaintiff in the class action, told TheWrap that while she agrees with critics of the settlement who say the women should have received more money, the “reality” of the matter is that the settlement is the best they could do given the circumstances.
“This movement is about linking arms with our fellow sisters and saying, ‘Stop rape culture. Enough is e-frickin’-nough,'” Geiss said. “We want to make a better reality for ourselves and for the next generation. The money is honestly the icing on the cake. The fact that Harvey went to jail is really the cake.”
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