An open letter from seven women has criticised the Attorney General for supporting the “unfair” agreement.
Back in December 2019, Harvey Weinstein and 30 women who accused him of sexual misconduct reached a settlement deal in the vicinity of $25 million. As part of the deal, according to the Guardian, the disgraced studio mogul would not have to admit any wrongdoing and would not be personally responsible for coming up with the funds.
Then, the women involved begrudgingly accepted the settlement. (“I don’t love it, but I don’t know how to go after him,” one told the Guardian.) But a lot has changed in the intervening months. Now, Weinstein is a convicted sexual offender, after being found guilty of third degree rape and first degree criminal sexual acts on two women. He is set to be sentenced for these crimes later this week.
Weinstein’s conviction is part of the reason that seven of the women involved in the December 2019 settlement have penned an open letter asking for Attorney General Letitia James to withdraw her support for the deal.
The accusers, including Zoë Brock, Alexandra Canosa, Rowena Chiu, Wedil David, Dominique Huett, Zelda Perkins and Kaja Sokola write: “The settlement is insulting to all of the survivors in that it represents a small fraction of what should be paid”.
The letter continues: “While every survivor should have the ability to make her own choice as to whether to settle despite these glaring deficiencies, the proposed settlement will have a profoundly negative impact on those who voluntarily choose not to settle.”
“In sum, survivors are being presented with a ‘choice’ of accepting an unfair settlement that is a fraction of what was originally discussed and for which the main wrongdoers are paying nothing, or proceed against a company that has been stripped of all assets and against our sexual assaulter, whose defense will be funded by the very agreement that would otherwise have been turned down. There is nothing fair or just about this.”
The letter points out that only a small portion of the $25 million settlement deal will actually make it to the women themselves. Instead, about half ($12 million) of the funds will be paid to lawyers representing Weinstein and his brother Bob, as well as the board of directors of their business, The Weinstein Company. People who, according to the open letter, “turned a blind eye, allowing Harvey Weinstein to victimise us and so many others.”
Aside from questions of monetary compensation, the open letter argues that the settlement will also impact those who wish to pursue further legal action by protecting the insurance companies responsible for the payout.
“We would ask that you, as Attorney General, closely examine the proposed settlement and renegotiate the terms so that the victims’ fund adequately compensates victims and doesn’t fund the alleged wrongdoers’ defense,” the letter concludes.
“We implore you to personally intervene to ensure that a fair settlement is reached in which all victims are afforded the level of justice and dignity they deserve.”