Shortly after the new year, almost 40 women with sexual misconduct claims against convicted felon Harvey Weinstein agreed to jointly settle their claims for almost $17 million, in tandem with his bankruptcy proceedings. The judge handling the bankruptcy has now agreed to that deal, per the Hollywood Reporter, effectively moving forward what has been a years-long struggle for the victims of the former film producer, finally.
As the outlet reports, that “settlement fund” will include $17 million to be divided through a claims examiner, using what the court describes as a “point system,” where each claim will be assigned a set amount of points, and the assets divided accordingly. The accusers also get the option to continue in their other claims against the producer, but should they take that route, their dividend from the settlement will be reduced to only 25 percent of the total amount, with the rest being routed to insurance companies, per the bankruptcy agreement.
As THR reports, taking the settlement also bars the women from further action against the Weinstein Company and its board members. The outlet also describes “sharp criticism” from certain factions within the group of accusers, who see the stipulations in the settlement as effectively muzzles victims who were raped by Weinstein. Of course, the Weinstein Company’s attorney Paul Zumbro said in a statement that taking the money avoids “messy, uncertain, public, painful litigation” for the accusers, as if the can isn’t already wide open.
In a statement agreeing with the majority who voted to take the settlement, and statements by the Weinstein Company spokesperson, THR reports that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath said:
“I will not get into an analysis of whether one victim’s claim has more validity or more value than another’s. Every victim of Harvey Weinstein was victimized and deserves to have a say into the plan confirmation. If they choose not to release Mr. Weinstein, they have the right to have a jury trial. ... Eighty-three percent of the victims have expressed very loudly that they want closure through acceptance of this plan.”
Predictably, a lawyer for Weinstein told THR that through the settlement and bankruptcy proceedings, their client maintains his innocence.