Harvey Weinstein's victims entitled to compensation from $19 million fund

Harvey Weinstein laments the loss of his legacy

Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein spoke to the New York Post about his legacy. FOX Business’ Cheryl Casone with more.

Women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault or say they were harassed while working at his former film studio will be entitled to payments from a nearly $19 million fund being created to compensate them, months after the former Hollywood producer was convicted of sex crimes.

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Money for the fund is coming from insurance as part of a settlement resolving civil lawsuits including a proposed class action against Mr. Weinstein and a separate civil-rights suit brought by the New York attorney general's office. That lawsuit accuses Weinstein Co.'s former executives and board members of failing to protect employees from a hostile work environment and its namesake chairman's sexual misconduct.

A New York jury in February found Mr. Weinstein guilty of first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape charges, resulting in a 23-year prison sentence. He faces criminal prosecution on similar allegations in Los Angeles.

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The settlement deal must be approved by a U.S. bankruptcy judge in Wilmington, Del., where Weinstein Co. is being liquidated. The product of more than a year of on-and-off negotiations, the agreement also requires approval from a federal judge in New York, where the class-action lawsuit was filed.

The deal releases women who signed confidentiality, nondisclosure or nondisparagement agreements with Weinstein Co. or former company representatives related to any sexual misconduct by Mr. Weinstein from those agreements, the attorney general's office said. A confidential process will be set up through the bankruptcy court for women to submit claims for compensation from the $18.85 million fund.

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More than 80 women have accused Mr. Weinstein of misconduct, according to court papers filed in 2018 by Weinstein Co.

"Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Company failed their female employees. After all the harassment, threats, and discrimination, their victims are finally receiving some justice," said Letitia James, the New York state attorney general.

How to compensate women who have accused Mr. Weinstein has been an open question since his film studio collapsed. Weinstein Co. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2018 and sold its film and television assets as lawyers worked to hammer out a liquidation plan to pay victims as well as the company's creditors.

Women's claims for compensation will be reviewed by a court-appointed administrator, with individual awards ranging from $7,500 to $750,000, court papers say. The settlement ensures women who have accused Mr. Weinstein of abuse will be compensated, a challenging prospect because of Weinstein Co.'s bankruptcy.

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In chapter 11, the women's lawsuits are treated as unsecured claims against the former studio along with other business debt and would only be paid out after bankruptcy fees, bank loans and other secured debt that ranks higher in terms of repayment.

"Despite initial setbacks, we continued to fight," said Beth Fegan, a lawyer who represented women in the class action lawsuit.

Mr. Weinstein, his film studio, its former board members and associates have faced several civil suits in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., with some allegations dating back more than a decade. Former board members have denied wrongdoing.

The New York attorney's general office, under then-chief Eric Schneiderman, brought its lawsuit weeks before the studio's bankruptcy filing. Mr. Schneiderman resigned in May 2018 after he was accused of sexual misconduct.

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"Harvey Weinstein left a trail of trauma that was crushing for many women," said Louisette Geiss, a lead plaintiff in the proposed class action against Mr. Weinstein and co-chair of the Weinstein Co. unsecured creditors committee formed in the studio's bankruptcy.

"There is no amount of money that can make up for this injustice, but I'm extremely proud of what we've accomplished today," she said.

–Deanna Paul and Corinne Ramey contributed to this article.

Write to Jonathan Randles at [email protected]

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