Opinion: Weinstein living the good life in ankle monitor
Harvey Weinstein, once one of the most brash and powerful men in Hollywood, has lately been having issues with his ankle bracelet.
The shunned former movie producer is wearing a court-ordered monitor while he awaits trial for allegedly raping one woman and forcing another to let him perform a sex act on her.
Recently, a Manhattan prosecutor told a judge that the tracking device on Weinstein’s ankle had stopped transmitting at least 57 times during a two-month period.
“These were not technical glitches in any shape or form. Mr. Weinstein did not want people to know where he was,” asserted the prosecutor, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon.
Weinstein’s attorney said the ankle monitor randomly quit working because of dead batteries and shaky wireless connections. The hearing ended when the judge doubled Weinstein’s bail to $2 million, which Weinstein promptly secured with stocks and other equities.
Such are the problems of super-rich sexual predators, trying to decide which seven-figure assets to post with your bondsman.
Weinstein, 67, was notorious in the entertainment world long before his monstrous behavior was chronicled in the New Yorker magazine and New York Times, igniting the #MeToo movement.
He got away with it so long because he could wreck young careers — and threatened to do just that. So people feared him. What finally brought him down were brave women who agreed to go public.
Unlike the late Jeffrey Epstein, Weinstein has so far been able to sleep in his own bed and avoid the indignities of incarceration. However, if convicted of the most serious criminal charges, he could be in prison the rest of his life.
Weinstein also has been sued in civil courts by more than 30 actresses and former employees who say he assaulted or harassed them.
Three of his most well-known accusers — Salma Hayek, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie — have spoken up but not joined the lawsuits.
Weinstein’s lawyers say he’s looking forward to clearing his name. On the same day he faced the judge about his monitor, another set of attorneys was working to finalize a $25 million settlement with dozens of his alleged victims.
Eighteen of the women would divide $6.2 million, and another $18.5 million would be earmarked for others who are part of a class-action suit and for future claimants.
Still, the deal would be a coup for Weinstein and the board of his now-bankrupt movie studio. Under the proposed terms, the money paid to the women would come not from Weinstein’s pocket but, rather, from the insurance companies representing the studio.
The total package of $47 million would also generously include $12 million to cover some of the legal expenses for Weinstein, his brother Bob and other former members of the board.
As a capper, the settlement would not require Weinstein to admit any wrongdoing.
Some of the women who’ve signed off on the settlement have said they’re displeased, but they also know it could be their last shot at being compensated. Weinstein reportedly might soon file for personal bankruptcy — even though prosecutors say he has sold $60 million worth of real estate in New York.
Not all of Weinstein’s accusers will participate in the settlement. An attorney for TV producer Alexandra Canosa, who has stated that Weinstein raped and threatened her, said there is “nothing fair or just” about the agreement.
It’s natural to be incensed by a deal that allows a wealthy creep to slither off without paying the victims any of his own money, or even acknowledging responsibility for the pain he has caused.
But settling a messy civil lawsuit is different from beating sexual assault charges in criminal court.
True, most predators aren’t rich and surrounded by smart lawyers — but ask Bill Cosby if that’s always helpful when your victims are on the witness stand telling their stories to a jury.
The fact is, Weinstein probably will never admit what he’s done, much less apologize. He’ll continue to insist that many of his accusers are making up incidents that never occurred and that the rest of them had sex with him consensually.
Weinstein’s trial is set for Jan. 6. In the meantime, he remains free, staying at home in the New York suburb of Bedford.
His lawyers have assured the judge that their famous client isn’t going anywhere.
They said he’s actually hired someone to help him make sure that his ankle monitor is working properly.
— Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald.