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Harvey Weinstein reportedly reaches $44 million settlement over sexual misconduct lawsuits

Harvey Weinstein, right, arrives for a court hearing in New York, on July 9, 2018. Bloomberg photo by Louis Lanzano

Harvey Weinstein has reached a tentative $44 million agreement to settle lawsuits involving women who accused him of sexual misconduct, his former film studio's board members and the New York attorney general's office, according to reports Thursday, May 23, from the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

As part of the proposed settlement, which was first reported by the Journal, $30 million would go to alleged victims of the disgraced Hollywood producer, former Weinstein Company employees and creditors, and their lawyers. The remaining amount would be used toward legal fees, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Representatives for Weinstein and the Weinstein Company could not be reached for comment. The New York attorney general's office declined to comment, as did Robert Feinstein, an attorney for the committee of unsecured creditors.

News of the proposal, which has not been finalized, was revealed Thursday during a federal bankruptcy court hearing in Wilmington, Del., Variety reported. The Weinstein Company filed for bankruptcy last year after weathering an onslaught of civil lawsuits brought forth by accusers, who alleged that Weinstein and his former company engaged in misconduct. The lawsuits include a class action filed on behalf of Weinstein's alleged victims and a suit from the New York attorney general.

Adam Harris, an attorney representing Weinstein's brother and business partner, Bob Weinstein, the company's former chairman, told Judge Mary F. Walrath on Thursday that a tentative deal had been reached the day before, following months of mediation hearings, according to Variety.

A May 15 court filing described the mediation process as "highly-adversarial," noting that there were more than 11 separate sessions between the parties over the past year, totaling about 133 hours. The same documents stated that lawyers were "literally days away from receiving a proposed global resolution."

"We now have an economic agreement in principle that's supported by the plaintiffs, the A.G.'s office, the defendants, and all the insurers, that if approved would provide significant compensation to victims, creditors of the estate, and allow the parties to avoid years of costly, time-consuming and uncertain litigation on all sides," Harris said. "I personally am very optimistic given everything the parties have been through to date that this is the right solution."

If finalized, the money would likely be paid by insurance policies, the Times reported.

"It's been a long complex process and we do feel this settlement provides a measure of justice though it's not everything one might hope for and it reflects a long effort to reach a compromise between different parties that have claims to some of the money from the whole Weinstein enterprise," Aaron Filler, an attorney representing actress Paz de la Huerta, one of the plaintiffs, told the Times.

The proposed deal comes more than a year and a half after women first started accusing Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Since then, more than 80 women - a list that includes high-profile actresses and models such as Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cara Delevingne - have come forward with allegations ranging from sexual harassment and verbal abuse to rape. The numerous accusations against Weinstein helped ignite the #MeToo movement, which has led to public scrutiny of Hollywood and the global entertainment industry.

Amid the scandal's fallout, the Weinstein Company, once one of the largest independent film studios in North America, floundered and accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. Post-bankruptcy, the company's assets, including its library of 277 films, were bought by Lantern Capital Partners for $289 million last July, the Times reported. Weinstein's former company was behind Oscar-winning films such as "The King's Speech" and "The Artist," which both earned best picture awards in consecutive years. As a producer, Weinstein's credits also include "Pulp Fiction," "Shakespeare in Love" and "Gangs of New York," among other titles.

The settlement is a civil matter, so it would not affect any pending criminal cases against Weinstein, who is facing charges of sexual assault in Manhattan. The disgraced movie mogul, whose trial is set to begin in September, has pleaded not guilty and denied all accusations of nonconsensual sex.

The parties involved in the civil cases are expected to meet next week along with a mediator to go over additional details of the proposed agreement, Feinstein, the attorney for the creditors, told the judge, Variety reported.

"The end goal of that mediation is to do a global settlement of the class action and all the tort claims against the Weinstein Co.," Feinstein said. "I think we're poised to get there."

Elizabeth Fegan, an attorney representing Weinstein's accusers in the class action, did not respond to a request for comment.

A decision whether to approve the settlement will be made by a bankruptcy judge on June 4, the Times reported.

This article was written by Allyson Chiu, a reporter for The Washington Post.