How is it that someone accused of dozens of criminal acts can throw millions of dollars at a problem and pay his way out of trouble?
That is what's happening with Horrible Harvey Weinstein, except if all goes as planned, he won't be paying out anything. His insurance companies will handle the payoffs to the tune of at least $44 million.
I have called him Horrible Harvey after accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape by not just 10, 20 or 30 women but by more than 80 women! According to The New York Times, over the last three decades, Weinstein paid out settlements to at least eight female actresses and other employees. Astoundingly, he never seemed to learn his lesson.
Today, scores more women are alleging both creepy and criminal sex acts perpetrated by the now-disgraced Hollywood film producer. Included are 18 allegations of forcible rape. As you read this, his lawyers continue to try to hammer out even more payoffs to keep details of his horrid past behavior quiet.
Blondes, brunettes, redheads. Caucasians, blacks, Hispanics and Asians. Various employees at his production company, documentary filmmakers, directors, writers, actresses, models, comedians, singers, a professor of psychology, a journalist, a massage therapist. The married-with-children (including four daughters) Horrible Harvey didn't discriminate. Apparently, all women were targets. He felt entitled, above the law.
I mention the occupations of the women who have come forward because Horrible Harvey is also said to have had a habit of badmouthing women all across the globe if they dared to complain about the acts he's being accused of, intimidating groping, grabbing, lecherous grinding, prurient masturbating and forcible sexual acts. Many accusers say their career was forever harmed by sabotaging comments Weinstein made to other powerful people in the entertainment industry. Actresses Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino are just two examples. A Polish model is another, and she claims she was just 16 years old when Horrible Harvey forced her into unwanted sex acts.
But more on that $44 million settlement Weinstein lawyers continue to fashion: In October 2017, after The New York Times and New York Magazine almost simultaneously broke the story about Horrible Harvey's predatory ways (winning a joint Pulitzer Prize for their efforts), the Weinstein dynasty began to collapse. More women came forward, and the #MeToo movement was born. Law enforcement in Los Angeles, New York and London began criminal investigations. For some accusers, the statute of limitations had run out on the alleged crimes they described, but others were able to file civil suits against Horrible Harvey and his Weinstein Company. Bankruptcy court followed, and without going into all the legal machinations, suffice it to say, Weinstein's lawyers had to do something about the company's mounting debt and all those civil suits that were piling up.
Last September, a federal judge ordered the women's suits to be joined into one class action case. In a grand maneuver designed to consolidate everything, Weinstein's lawyers entered into a complicated mediation so the bankruptcy could go forward. There was talk of a $90 million compensation fund.
Now, suddenly, that fund is inexplicitly reported to be down to $44 million. And get this: Off the top of the proposed settlement, a reported $14 million will go to pay the legal fees for Weinstein associates who were also named as defendants. Creditors will be paid out of the remaining $30 million, along with the fees of all lawyers representing the accusers. In the end, each of the alleged victims would reportedly get an average $60,000 or less depending on the severity of Horrible Harvey's behavior against them.
"The proposed deal would provide millions of dollars to the ultra-wealthy directors of the Weinstein Company ... and their big firm lawyers," said the attorneys for one of the female accusers, actress Wedil David.
In a prepared statement they added, "It would also allow Harvey Weinstein and the men who enabled him, including his brother, Robert Weinstein, to escape liability and accountability without, apparently, contributing a dime of their own money."
It's been reported that all the plaintiffs must sign off on any pact or the deal is off. At least two of the accusers have said they will never agree to this latest settlement since Horrible Harvey won't have to pay any money himself. Weinstein has denied all the past and present charges against him.
The only ray of hope for justice in the case is that the state of New York puts him on trial in September on criminal charges of first-degree rape and additional felony sex crimes involving two other women.
If Weinstein were a construction worker or a cab driver, do you think he'd be able to pay his way out of the bulk of his predicament? Do you think the law would have tolerated his behavior for so long? Of course not. This is no way to run a justice system.
To find out more about Diane Dimond, visit her website at www.dianedimond.com. Her latest book, "Thinking Outside the Crime and Justice Box," is available on Amazon.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: GabboT