Harvey Weinstein jailed for 23 years in landmark rape case

Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault.

The disgraced movie producer broke his courtroom silence during Wednesday’s hearing – sounding unrepentant.

Speaking from a wheelchair behind the defence table, Weinstein said he was “totally confused” – adding: “I feel remorse for all of the men who are going through this fight.”

Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at New York Criminal Court for his sexual assault trial in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
Image:Harvey Weinstein, pictured in February, was found guilty following a landmark trial earlier this year

The 67-year-old also told the court in New York that he had fond memories of his accusers, and that men facing allegations as a result of the #MeToo movement are accused of “things that none of us understood”.

Once one of Hollywood’s most influential figures, Weinsteinwas convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013 following a landmark trial earlier this year.

Prosecutors said Weinstein committed a “lifetime of abuse towards others”.

Speaking about his accusers on Wednesday, he said: “I’m not going to say these aren’t great people. I had wonderful times with these people.”

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He said his wives during different periods of his life had no knowledge of his actions, and that he went to “extraordinary lengths to hide my extramarital affairs”.

Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno said he had walked into court “with the forces of the media pushing against him”, that he had heart problems and other medical issues, and that there was “a lot he gave up” to achieve his success.

Mimi Haleyi walks into for sentencing of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein on March 11, 2020 in New York City. Haleyi is one of two women who were to give victim impact statements ahead of sentencing for Weinstein, who faces a minimum sentence of 5 years and a maximum of 25 years after being convicted of rape and criminal sexual assault. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Image:Mimi Haleyi, one of Weinstein’s accusers, spoke in court
Jessica Mann (C) and Dawn Dunning (R) leave the courtroom following the sentencing of movie producer Harvey Weinstein at Manhattan Criminal Court on March 11, 2020 in New York
Image:Jessica Mann pictured leave the courtroom following the sentencing

The former producer, whose films included Shakespeare In Love, Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Gangs Of New York, had used a walking frame throughout his trial and arrived at the sentencing in a wheelchair, due to back problems caused by a car crash last year.

But despite the plea for leniency, judges handed him a sentence nearer to the maximum of 29 years than their requested minimum of five.

Afterwards, Ms Rotunno described the term as “obscene” and said: “We were looking for fairness, and we didn’t get it.”

During the hearing, lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi told the court that had it not been for women coming forward, Weinstein “would never have been stopped from hurting more lives”.

Describing the movie mogul as a “sex addict and an anger addict” who “got drunk on power”, she said his trial had shown “a few survivors of his wrath but there were many more”.

Annabella Sciorria and Rosie Perez(R) leave the courtroom following the sentencing of movie producer Harvey Weinstein at Manhattan Criminal Court on March 11, 2020 in New York
Image:Actresses Annabella Sciorria and Rosie Perez were also at the hearing

His convictions were for a criminal sexual act in the first degree involving Ms Haleyi, and third-degree rape involving Ms Mann.

Both women were applauded by onlookers as they arrived to speak at the hearing.

In tears, Ms Haleyi told Judge James Burke that the 2006 attack “scarred me deeply, mentally and emotionally, perhaps irreparably – perhaps forever”.

She told the court: “I believe that if Harvey Weinstein was not convicted by this jury, it would happen again and again and again.”

Attorney Donna Rotunno speaks to the media following the sentencing of movie producer Harvey Weinstein at Manhattan Criminal Court on March 11, 2020 in New York
Image:Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno described his jail term as ‘obscene’
New York State Court policemen stood guard at the courtroom during film producer Harvey Weinstein's sentencing for sexual assault following his trial at New York Criminal Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City
Image:New York State Court police stood guard at the courtroom during the hearing

More than 100 women, including famous actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek and Uma Thurman, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct stretching back decades, fuelling the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment.

After the sentencing, a group of 24 accusers who call themselves the Silence Breakers – including actresses Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and Rosanna Arquette – released a statement saying: “Harvey Weinstein’s legacy will always be that he’s a convicted rapist.

“He is going to jail – but no amount of jail time will repair the lives he ruined, the careers he destroyed, or the damage he has caused.”

23 years. Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for his crimes of rape and sexual assault. I literally cried tears of amazement, gratitude that the justice system has worked on behalf of all of his victims today.

— Mira Sorvino (@MiraSorvino) March 11, 2020

Time’s Up UK, the British arm of the global campaign group launched in the wake of the Weinstein allegations, said: “Today’s landmark sentencing decision is a major moment for the silence breakers and for women battling everywhere for their right to work in a safe workplace without fear of abuse and harassment.

“It is also a major moment for justice and the system of justice.

“The precedence of this case cannot be underestimated. A group of brave women were listened to and believed. A man who abused his power has faced consequences.”

The women who fought Weinstein in court

The women who fought Weinstein in court

In a statement following the hearing, New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance thanked the court and survivors.

“We thank the court for imposing a sentence that puts sexual predators and abusive partners in all segments of society on notice,” he said.

“We thank the survivors for their remarkable statements today and indescribable courage over the last two years.

“Harvey Weinstein deployed nothing less than an army of spies to keep them silent. But they refused to be silent, and they were heard. Their words took down a predator and put him behind bars, and gave hope to survivors of sexual violence all across the world.”

Listen to “Harvey Weinstein’s fall from power and rise of #MeToo | 25 February 2020” on Spreaker.

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Following his trial, which ended in February, Weinstein was found not guilty of the most serious charges made against him, predatory sexual assault and first-degree rape, which could have resulted in a life sentence.

Now that he has been sentenced, his lawyers can move forward with a promised appeal.

A second criminal case – for which Weinstein denies the charges – is pending in California.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has now started the extradition process for Weinstein to face sexual assault charges there.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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