Harvey Weinstein's $19 million settlement with accusers rejected
A US federal judge has rejected a proposed $19 million settlement for women who accused former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse and harassment. The judge termed the fund "obnoxious" and called it unfair to the victims. Earlier, various accusers had objected to the allegedly one-sided terms of the deal. Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year prison term in New York. Here's more.
The settlement would have resolved a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of women who leveled sexual assault allegations against Weinstein. It would have also settled a 2018 lawsuit against Weinstein, his brother, and his production company. The fund amount would have been distributed between a number of women claimants. However, nearly $12 million would have gone towards paying Weinstein and his company's legal bills.
During the 20-minute phone hearing, District Judge Alvin Hellerstein questioned whether the sexual assault survivors even constituted a legal class and why they were not pursuing individual cases, provided how much their allegations varied in severity. He dismissed the deal citing it put women who had merely met Weinstein on the same ground as those who had been raped or sexually abused by him.
Earlier, lawyers of many accusers had objected to the proposed payout, calling it a "cruel hoax" and "deeply unfair for many reasons." They complained that if the proposal was accepted, Weinstein would not have to take responsibility for his heinous actions. However, Louisette Geiss, another accuser, said that it would have helped give back to survivors who lost their careers and so much more.
Meanwhile, the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement that it will "review the decision and determine next steps." "Our office has been fighting tirelessly to provide these brave women with the justice they are owed and will continue to do so," James' spokesperson Kelly Donnelly said. The Attorney General had earlier called the settlement a "semblance of justice."
Once one of the most influential movie producers in the West, Weinstein (68) was in February convicted of first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. The next month, the Oscar-winning former producer was sentenced to 23 years in prison by a New York court, in what marked a landmark event for the #MeToo movement across the globe.