NEW YORK: Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Wednesday following his sexual assault and rape conviction last month after he made an unrepentant statement to the court.
The sentence was handed down in Manhattan criminal court by Justice James Burke, who presided over Weinstein’s trial. On February 24, a jury found Weinstein guilty of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann.
“I feel remorse for all of the men who are going through this fight,” Weinstein told the court before he was sentenced. Weinstein said he was worried about “thousands of men” being denied due process in the #MeToo era. In a rambling statement, he said he was “confused” and that he believed he had a “serious friendship” with Mann and Haleyi.
Weinstein had faced the possibility of a maximum sentence of 29 years in prison. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance told reporters afterward that the judge “sent a message today that this type behaviour is something that any potential offender is going to have to consider. The judge took it seriously, which is exactly how we think he should have. And we’re grateful.”
Weinstein appeared for sentencing wearing a suit and sitting in a wheelchair. The six women who testified against him were in court for the proceedings.
In an emotional statement in court, Haleyi spoke of the trauma she had endured since the attack, saying, “It scarred me deeply, mentally and emotionally, perhaps irreparably, perhaps forever.” She said Weinstein has seemed “completely disconnected from the gravity of the crime he has committed against me.”
Mann also addressed the court. “I want to remind you I told Harvey, ‘no,’” she told the court. “I am forced to carry that experience until I die,” she added.
During the sentencing hearing, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi asked Burke to impose 25 years in prison for his conviction on a charge of criminal sexual act in the first degree involving Haleyi and to impose a consecutive sentence for the third-degree rape conviction involving Mann.
More than 100 women, including famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct stretching back decades, while Weinstein has denied the allegations.
The jury of seven men and five women acquitted Weinstein on the most serious charges, a single count of first-degree rape as well as two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence. Those charges relied on testimony by actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in the early 1990s.
Weinstein has been awaiting sentencing in New York’s notorious Rikers Island jail, where he was moved last Thursday after a ten-day hospital stay where he underwent a procedure to clear a heart blockage.
Once one of Hollywood’s most influential producers, Weinstein was a powerful figure and a contributor to Democratic candidates. He won an Academy Award for producing Shakespeare in Love and was responsible for other acclaimed films including Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Gangs of New York.
Prosecutors portrayed Weinstein as a serial predator who had manipulated women with promises of career advancement in Hollywood and said the sentence should reflect a lifetime of abuse. The case is hailed as a victory for the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct,