Harvey Weinstein and the board of his bankrupt film company reached a tentative $25 million ($37.9 million NZ) settlement with dozens of women who accused him of various counts of sexual misconduct ranging from rape to sexual harassment, according to several people with direct knowledge of the deal.
While the agreement would bring one aspect of the ongoing saga to a possible close, Weinstein still faces criminal sex-crime charges in Manhattan that could result in a sentence of life in prison. He has denied all accusations since his arrest last year.
The proposed settlement would not require Weinstein, the embattled movie mogul whose alleged behaviour propelled the #MeToo movement, to admit fault or personally pay the accusers. If the deal, which was first reported Wednesday by the New York Times, moves forward, it must be formally approved by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Delaware and a federal judge in New York.
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The payout for the accusers who choose to participate would come from insurance companies representing the Weinstein Co. as part of bankruptcy proceedings resulting in an overall $47 million settlement. Of this, more than $12 million would be paid to cover a portion of the legal costs of Weinstein and his associates.
Caitlin Dulany, an actress who alleged Weinstein sexually assaulted and harassed her in the 1990s, said even though the tentative settlement wasn't "perfect," she hoped it might help set a precedent for victims of sexual assault "going up against predators and the companies they work for."
"It's mixed feelings," Dulany said. "I'm very sad that it's not more for these victims, and there are so many . . . but I'm also really, really happy that it's happening, both for the women and the potential it holds for the future."
It is unclear how many alleged victims would ultimately participate in the settlement. But at least four are not taking part, and some may oppose the deal in court. These include Alexandra Canosa, a television producer who has accused Weinstein of raping, threatening and sexually abusing her several times over the course of five years. Her attorney Thomas Giuffra said in a statement that there is "nothing fair or just" about the proposed deal.
Douglas Wigdor, who represents Wedil David, another accuser who turned down the terms of the deal, said in a statement, "We reject the notion that this was the best settlement that could have been achieved on behalf of the victims." He called the approximately $12 million to cover legal fees "shameful."
Representatives for Weinstein did not return The Washington Post's request for comment. Weinstein, who faces a criminal trial in New York in January on sex-crime charges, has long maintained his innocence.
Two years ago, an investor group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet almost bought the assets of the Weinstein Co., then near bankruptcy, in a deal that would have included a victims' compensation fund worth up to $90 million. The deal fell through when a civil rights lawsuit was filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against Weinstein, his brother and his company for "vicious and exploitative" treatment of their employees and for failing to protect accusers.
The tentative settlement reached Wednesday is a fraction of what the victims could have received had the 2017 deal gone through.
"There isn't enough money we'd like to see made available to the victims. He truly harmed people and wrecked people's lives through sexual predation," said Debra Katz, who was not involved with the settlement but represents Irwin Reiter, a longtime Weinstein Co. executive who has said he flagged company executives about Weinstein's alleged behaviour. "That said, the lawyers who have been involved with this have worked very hard for two years to try and get as much money as is available for the victims."
Rebecca Goldman, chief operating officer of the Time's Up Foundation, released a statement that called the tentative settlement "flawed". "This settlement is more than a math problem," she wrote. "It's a symptom of a problematic, broken system that privileges powerful abusers at the expense of survivors."
Goldman added: "We know [the settlement] represents the hard work of several survivors of Harvey Weinstein. "We hope it brings them, and perhaps others, some small measure of justice and relief that is long overdue."
In addition to the civil settlement, Weinstein has been battling criminal charges in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Since his arrest last year, the Oscar-winning producer has been free on $1 million bail as he awaited trial; the court also restricted his travel to within the United States and required he wear an electronic ankle monitor.
On Wednesday, Judge James Burke in Manhattan increased Weinstein's bail after a two-day hearing. The former film producer put up a $2 million insurance bond, secured by stocks, bonds and cash.
Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the court that Weinstein had dozens of monitoring violations, arising from moments when a device was either out of cell service range or left at home.
"It defies logic to believe he cannot navigate taking his device with him when he travels outside of his home," she said on Friday, the first day of the hearing, adding "the people's position is none of the bracelet violations were accidental".
Citing his use of private jets, a multi-firm defence team and the sale of five New York properties, Illuzzi-Orbon said Weinstein has "almost unlimited resources" and her request was "not overly burdensome on the defendant."
Donna Rotunno, a member of Weinstein's defense team, disagreed, calling the violations "technical glitches." Many, she said, were because of the location of Weinstein's home, which is in Bedford, New York, where there are few cell towers.
Friday's bail hearing was scheduled at Burke's request, not the prosecution's.
"The last technical glitch was October 7," Rotunno added. If the prosecution was truly concerned about Weinstein's whereabouts, she asked: Why was the defence only here now and not months ago?
• The Washington Post's Emily Yahr in Washington and Shayna Jacobs in New Jersey contributed to this report.