There’s a fine line between negotiating a settlement and outright extortion, according to Mark McBride, a Beverly Hills attorney whose clients have had their share of legal cases in which women accused them of sexual harassment and even abuse.
“Writing a check without some litigation is extortion,” McBride told Newsmax Finance. "I hate settling cases generally but especially during the #metoo movement. I don’t advise giving in to these demands unless the client admits there was a crime.”
A week has not gone by in recent months without new allegations of sexual harassment and abuse surfacing against men who are visible either in politics, media, entertainment or the sports industries.
“Some of the “Me Too” movement is a shakedown, which won't change the basic balance between men and women,” said McBride who has negotiated settlements ranging from $60,000 to $300,000.
Most recently, Actor Scott Baio was accused of molesting his “Charles in Charge” co-star Nicole Eggert who filed a police report against him on February 6, 2018.
Baio took to Facebook Live to defend himself:
“What I am being accused of is horrible. I am being accused of inappropriately touching her, Nicole Eggert, when she was a minor.”
Since then, another former child actor named Alexander Polinsky has lodged harassment allegations against Baio.
“For every victim, there are two or three who are complicit and that’s not being discussed,” said McBride who represented Saving Private Ryan star Tom Sizemore.
Just this month, federal Judge Helen Gillmor refused to dismiss a libel suit movie producer Brett Ratner filed against Melanie Kohler after she accused him of rape.
Judge Gillmor held that the case would be governed by the California anti-SLAPP statute, which protects free speech rights and makes it more difficult to pursue defamation claims in California.
“Accusing someone of sexual abuse is horrible and the accused have every right to file a defamation lawsuit,” said McBride who is known in Los Angeles as the most well attired male attorney in Los Angeles. “For my clients who have been wrongfully accused, I use female private investigators whose job is to profile the accuser. Then we go to trial.”
McBride’s go-to female private investigators include Kellie Anguiano and Lynda Larsen.
For spouses who are divorcing an alleged harasser, the circumstances vary when victim lawsuits are involved. In the case of Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman, a settlement happened quickly, according to Dror Bikel, high-conflict divorce lawyer in Manhattan.
“It was smart on her part to settle fast because the impact of allegations upon a marriage becomes about shielding assets from victim lawsuits,” Bikel told Newsmax Finance. “Georgina won’t be a party to any victim creditor lawsuit. Harvey and his company will be.”
Weinstein was set to sell The Weinstein Company when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman intervened with a complaint that the movie company repeatedly broke New York law by failing to protect its employees from pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and discrimination.
“Any sale of The Weinstein Company must ensure that victims will be compensated, employees will be protected going forward and that neither perpetrators nor enablers will be unjustly enriched,” Attorney General Schneiderman stated in a press release.
Weinstein has been wrangling against multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
“The attorney general is trying to preserve assets for the victims while Harvey wants the sale of his business to go through so he can get his share of the buyout,” Bikel said. “His soon to be ex wife Georgina wants the sale to go through presumably because she wants Harvey to be funded since he may her owe money.”