NEW YORK – Dozens of women who were sexually abused and harassed while they were working for now-convicted US film producer Harvey Weinstein’s company will receive a total of just under $19 million in a settlement of their cases, according to a tentative agreement made public on Wednesday by the New York Attorney General’s Office.
The agreement was announced by New York Attorney General Letitia James and Chicago attorney Elizabeth A. Fegan, who said that – if judges in federal courts approve it – the deal would allow the accusers to claim anywhere between $7,500 to $750,000 of the $18.8 million settlement amount.
The pact must be approved by bankruptcy courts and the Manhattan district attorney’s office and stems from a lawsuit filed in February 2018 against Weinstein and his brother Robert Weinstein for maintaining a hostile working environment in which multiple women were sexually abused and harassed over a number of years.
The class-action suit was filed by a number of women who claimed that the film producer sexually attacked or harassed them, New York AG James said in a statement.
Weinstein, who was the most powerful film producer in Hollywood for a number of years, was sentenced on March 11 to 23 years in prison in New York for raping and sexually attacking two women after a court provided a forum for his victims and helped concretize the demands of the feminist #MeToo movement.
According to the statement, the settlement agreement guarantees that the women who experienced a hostile working environment, sexual harassment and gender discrimination while they were working for the company, along with being sexually abused by the producer, have the right to obtain restitution from the $18.8 million fund that has been created for his victims.
“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,” said James in her statement.
“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,” the New York AG added.
The agreement will release Weinstein’s victims from any confidentiality agreements related to any of his sexual misconduct that they may have signed with the producer, his company or any of his/its past representatives.
Actress Caitlin Dulany, one of Weinstein’s accusers in the case, said that they had fought a long and exhausting battle in court and that Weinstein, 68, had managed to avoid responsibility for his acts for decades.
The actress has claimed that the producer sexually attacked her in 1996 in a hotel in France when they were attending the Cannes Film Festival to promote a movie.
The attorney general said that the agreement is “a win” for all women who have suffered sexual harassment, discrimination, intimidation or reprisals from their employers.
The complaints against Weinstein, which surfaced in October 2017 in publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Times, sparked a wave of criticism that led to the formation of the #MeToo movement, which received broad support worldwide.
After the initial report of Weinstein’s behavior, dozens of other women came forward to blame him and other film and media industry figures, along with several politicians, for similar actions.
Weinstein turned himself in to New York authorities in May 2018 to face the accusations against him, which ultimately led to his trial starting last January.