A proposed $19 million (about €16.9 million) settlement for Harvey Weinstein’s accusers has been slammed as a “complete sellout”.
The agreement, announced by New York attorney general Letitia James, would resolve two lawsuits against the disgraced Hollywood producer.
The first one involves The Weinstein Company while the second is a separate class action lawsuit brought by women who say they were assaulted by the convicted rapist, who is serving a 23-year prison sentence.
The settlement is awaiting approval from the bankruptcy and district courts.
However, lawyers Douglas H Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, who represent six Weinstein accusers including his British former assistants Rowena Chiu and Zelda Perkins, said the settlement "fails on so many levels" and announced they will challenge it.
They said: “The proposed settlement is a complete sellout of the Weinstein survivors and we are surprised that the attorney general could somehow boast about a proposal that fails on so many different levels.
“While we do not begrudge any survivor who truly wants to participate in this deal, as we understand the proposed agreement, it is deeply unfair for many reasons.”
The lawyers list several issues with the settlement, including the fact it does not require Weinstein to admit guilt or pay money towards it.
Their statement added: “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.”
However, the proposals were welcomed by Louisette Geiss, another of Weinstein's accusers.
She said: “This important act of solidarity allowed us to use our collective voice to help those who had been silenced and to give back to the many, many survivors who lost their careers and more. There is no amount of money that can make up for this injustice, but I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished today.”
The proposed victims’ compensation fund is $18,875,000, Ms James said. It would allow women who say they were assaulted by Weinstein to claim for damages confidentially.
As part of the agreement, Weinstein’s accusers would be freed from any confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements they signed with The Weinstein Company or any representative of the company related to alleged sexual misconduct by Weinstein.
The attorney general's office launched legal action against Weinstein and his brother Bob Weinstein in February 2018 for "maintaining a hostile work environment" at their company.
In a statement, James said: “Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company failed their female employees. After all the harassment, threats, and discrimination, these survivors are finally receiving some justice.
“For more than two years, my office has fought tirelessly in the pursuit of justice for the women whose lives were upended by Harvey Weinstein. This agreement is a win for every woman who has experienced sexual harassment, discrimination, intimidation, or retaliation by her employer.
“I thank the brave women who came forward to share their stories with my office. I will forever carry their stories in my heart and never stop fighting for the right of every single person to be able to work harassment-free.”
Weinstein was once one of the most powerful and feared men in Hollywood before his downfall was triggered by a flood of sexual assault allegations in October 2017.
He was convicted of rape in February following a trial in New York. He faces further charges in Los Angeles. – PA