In October 2017, a pair of concurrent investigations gave platform to the dozens of women who alleged that the producer Harvey Weinstein had sexually harassed, assaulted, and, in some cases, raped them. Rumors about the producer’s actions had swirled around Hollywood for years, but plenty of people believed he would never be toppled. Then, several actors and former employees at the Weinstein Company went on the record about the abuse they faced to Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey at the New York Times and Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker — and suddenly everything changed.
Weinstein was fired, and his eponymous company later filed for bankruptcy. Tarana Burke’s Me Too movement received a viral bump when the actor Alyssa Milano used the hashtag #MeToo to disclose her own survivor status. Millions of people shared what they lived through, and sometimes those stories led to real consequences: Many of the people in entertainment and other industries have been accused of varying shades of misconduct, and some have lost jobs or faced legal proceedings as a result.
But many survivors still feel as if justice has yet to be served, or that the legal response to the cultural groundswell has been fair. Case in point: On Wednesday (December 12), the Times reported that Weinstein and former associates may be reaching a settlement deal with more than 30 people who have accused him of predation; survivors are said to be receiving $25 million total.
As the Times reports, $6.2 million of the $25 million would go to 18 survivors; $18.5 million would be reserved for a pool related to a class-action suit against him. Those figures are part of a total $47 million settlement, which includes $12 million would go toward legal fees for Weinstein, his brother, and other former Weinstein Company board members. The fees would be paid by insurance companies that represented the company before it filed for bankruptcy.
“I don’t love it, but I don’t know how to go after him,” the actor Katharine Kendall told the Times of the proposed settlement. “I don’t know what I can really do.”
Per the Times, the settlement “would not require the Hollywood producer to admit wrongdoing or pay anything to his accusers himself, according to lawyers involved in the negotiations.” Weinstein was once estimated to be worth $300 million at his height, which included the years he allegedly targeted a host of women, including the actors Asia Argento, Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and his former assistant Rowena Chiu, to whom he allegedly also made racist remarks. All told, more than 80 women have come forward; Weinstein has denied all allegations made against him.
Even if the $25 million settlement is reached, the former producer, whose company financed films like Shakespeare In Love, Silver Linings Playbook, and Kill Bill, is facing January court dates for criminal charges connected to three separate claims from women who say he sexually assaulted them in 2004, 2006, and 2013. Because of the statutes limitations related to sexual assault, many of the women who say they suffered due to his actions were not able to press formal charges; others may have chosen to forego such a process for other reasons.
In October, three people confronted Weinstein when he made an appearance at a comedy club in Manhattan; he is currently out on a $1 million bail in connection with the criminal charges. One person, the actor Zoe Stuckless, was kicked out after confronting him directly; The Cut reported that around 10 more people walked out following Stuckless’s removal. A representative for Weinstein called the incident “downright rude” and that the producer had been “trying to find some solace in his life that has been turned upside down.”