Judge Rejects Harvey Weinstein's $19 Million Settlement with Victims
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein rejected the proposal on Tuesday
The settlement, which was part of the New York Attorney General's lawsuit brought against the Weinstein company, Weinstein and his brother Robert Weinstein in February 2018, would have created an $18,875,000 victims compensation fund for women who accused the disgraced producer of sexual assault.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein rejected the proposal, CNN reported.
"We will review the decision and determine next steps," a spokesperson for New York Attorney General Leticia James says in a statement to PEOPLE. "Our office has been fighting tirelessly to provide these brave women with the justice they are owed and will continue to do so."
Douglas H. Wigdor, a lawyer who represents multiple accusers, told CNN that he is pleased with the judge's decision, calling the settlement's terms and conditions "unfair."
"We have been saying for over a year and a half that the settlement terms and conditions were unfair and should never be imposed on sexual assault survivors," Wigdor said. "We were surprised that class counsel and the New York Attorney General did not recognize this fact but are pleased that Judge Hellerstein swiftly rejected the one-sided proposal."
"On behalf of our clients, we look forward to pursuing justice against Harvey Weinstein and his many enablers," he added.
A 36-page brief was filed Monday by lawyers for several accusers, CNN reported, asking the court to reject the proposed settlement.
"Under no set of circumstances should the uber-wealthy former directors, including Harvey and Bob Weinstein, receive more money than a class of rape and sexual assault survivors," said Wigdor, as well as attorneys Kevin Mintzer and Bryan Arbeit, in a statement to CNN, calling the settlement's terms and conditions "one-sided and unfair."
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"Equally reprehensible are the millions of dollars going to lawyers, corporations and famous actors at the expense of the survivors, while the insurance companies pay pennies on the dollar and Harvey Weinstein himself pays nothing," the attorneys said. "The efforts being made to prevent women from continuing with their litigation and holding those responsible for their trauma accountable are simply unprecedented. We are heartened by the growing opposition to this settlement and are hopeful that it will be rejected."
Earlier this month, James said in a press release that "Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Company failed their female employees. After all the harassment, threats and discrimination, these survivors are finally receiving some justice."
"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," her statement continued, calling the settlement "win for every woman who has experienced sexual harassment, discrimination, intimidation, or retaliation by her employer."
Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year sentence after being found guilty in February of first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. The Hollywood mogul also faces multiple sexual assault charges in California. Weinstein has denied allegations against him.
Weinstein's attorney Imran Ansari did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment regarding the settlement's rejection, but Ansari previously told Variety in a statement after news of the $19 million settlement, "With closure in sight on one front, Mr. Weinstein remains intently focused in defending himself on all remaining legal matters, including the appeal of his criminal conviction, civil lawsuits, and the charges filed against him in L.A. He continues to pursue all legal recourse available to him and remains steadfast in the defense of those matters."
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to online.rainn.org.