A federal judge on Tuesday rejected Harvey Weinstein’s $18.9m settlement deal in multiple sexual misconduct cases. The fund was to be distributed amongst numerous female litigants. However, 6 women urged a US judge to reject the deal, calling it “unfair”. The accusers said that the deal would absolve the 68-year-old disgraced producer, his brother, and the company of any liability.
Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for charging guilty of sexual rape and assault in March.
District Judge Alvin Hellerstein while dismissing the settlement called some of its terms “obnoxious”. He further expressed that the settlement would give an equal footing to women who only met Weinstein with the women he had raped or sexually abused.
The complainants called the proposed payout a “cruel hoax” as Weinstein would not have to bear the cost personally. It would also relieve him of any responsibility for his actions.
What was the settlement?
The settlement announced on 30 June would resolve a 2018 lawsuit filed against Weinstein, his production company, and his brother by New York Attorney General’s office.
It would have also settled a separate class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of a number of women accusing Weinstein of rape or sexual abuse.
Attorney General Letitia James at the time of hearing said: “After all the harassment, threats and discrimination, these survivors are finally receiving some semblance of justice.”
“Women who were forced to sign confidentiality agreements will also be freed from those clauses and finally be able to speak.”
The settlement needed approval from both a federal judge and bankruptcy court.
Where does the settlement stand now?
The U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in his statement said: “The idea you can regulate the claims of people not in the settlement — I can’t subscribe to that.”
Hellerstein had previously dismissed the class-action claims urging that each plaintiff experienced a different kind of trauma and the case makes them all equal.
“Not every woman was captured in the same way,” Hellerstein said. “Some gave up their bodies because of blandishments… some by force and some may have done it willingly. And yet your settlement creates equality.”
“This is not a class action,” he continued. “I will not give preliminary approval to the settlement,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein is appealing and still faces rape and sexual abuse charges in Los Angeles.
The conviction of such a bigwig producer was a massive win for thousands of women in the #MeToo movement. Started in the year 2017, hundreds of women came forward to name powerful men in business, media, and politics for sexual assault and rape.