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Six Weinstein accusers call $18.9 million New York settlement a 'cruel hoax'

The settlement announced on 30 June would end litigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James and separate class-action litigation, and permit accusers to claim $7,500 to $750,000 each.

In this file photo taken on 24 January 2020 Harvey Weinstein arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Court for his rape and sexual assault trial in New York City. Picture: AFP

NEW YORK - Six women who claim they were sexually abused by Harvey Weinstein urged a US judge on Monday to reject an $18.9 million settlement with the disgraced movie producer, the board of his former studio and other accusers.

The settlement announced on 30 June would end litigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James and separate class-action litigation, and permit accusers to claim $7,500 to $750,000 each.

But in a Manhattan federal court filing, the six women said accusers would receive just $11.2 million after deducting legal fees and costs, with typical awards of just $10,000 to $20,000, while shielding the defendants’ insurers from big payouts.

They also complained that the accord “absolved” Weinstein, his brother Bob Weinstein and the board of liability, while setting aside another $15.2 million to help cover their defense costs.

The settlement is “a cruel hoax” and among “the most one-sided and unfair class settlements in history,” the filing said. “The main winners ... are Harvey Weinstein, Robert Weinstein, and the ultra-wealthy former directors of The Weinstein Co.”

James’ office and a lawyer for Weinstein did not respond to requests for comment. Gerald Maatman, a lawyer for the Weinstein Cos, declined to comment.

The settlement requires approval by US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein.

In 2010, he initially rejected a settlement for workers suffering from health problems after the 11 September, 2001 attacks, saying he would not approve it “based on fear or ignorance.”

Weinstein, 68, is serving a 23-year prison term following his 24 February conviction for sexually assaulting a former production assistant and raping a onetime aspiring actress.

He is appealing, and still faces rape and sexual assault charges in Los Angeles.

The guilty verdict was a milestone for the #MeToo movement, which starting in late 2017 inspired women to accuse hundreds of powerful men in business, entertainment, media, politics and other fields of sexual misconduct.

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