Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein received a sentence of 23 years in prison on March 11 for sexually assaulting two women in New York. At age 67, that is tantamount to a virtual life sentence for Weinstein, who will be 90 if he serves the full term.
He is still facing additional sexual assault charges in Los Angeles. Weinstein is not in good health, and sat in a wheelchair as he heard the sentence. According to his attorney, he will appeal the New York verdict, which found him guilty of third-degree rape and commission of a criminal sexual act.
Before the sentencing, Weinstein compared his experience to those in Hollywood blacklisted in the 1950s over supposed Communist affiliations. After the sentencing, he went on about how he thought the sexual assaults were consensual, and said he was a victim of a “rush to judgment.”
Gasps in the Courtroom
When New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke announced the sentence, there were gasps in the courtroom. Many present said they were Weinstein victims, who so far total more than 80 in several countries.
One woman, who accused Weinstein of raping her in 2005, later stated that no one thought “we’d be here today,” because Weinstein had once been among the most powerful men in the entertainment industry. Not only did he threaten his victims if they reported or spoke about the assaults, but Weinstein also hired spies to make sure they kept quiet.
Weinstein received 20 years for his attack on Miriam Haley, who said in 2006 he forced oral sex on her, and three years for his 2013 rape of actress Jessica Mann in his New York City hotel room. While both women gave extremely emotional testimony during the trial, Mann started to cry uncontrollably and needed assistance leaving the courtroom after her turn on the witness stand.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. thanked the court, noting that the sentencing put sexual predators “on notice.” Vance also thanked the many victims for the courage they had displayed since Weinstein was first accused openly of sexual assault by several women in October 2017, thus launching the #MeToo Movement against sexual harassment and assault.
The world began to shift as more women came forward with long-withheld stories of sexual harassment and assault, leading to the termination of many men in top positions in Hollywood, TV journalism, arts and culture, and more.
Weinstein faced a sentence ranging from five to 23 years. Burke said he imposed the maximum sentence because, while this was a first conviction for the producer, “It is not a first offense.” Burke noted that there was various evidence presented to him regarding Weinstein’s sexual assaults of other women, and such evidence was a legitimate factor in the sentencing.
Three women at the trial testified that Weinstein used the same modus operandi on them. They were all interested in acting careers, and he invited them to private meetings. Instead of a career opportunity, they suffered a sexual assault. These particular incidents either did not occur in New York or happened too long ago for prosecutors to charge Weinstein.
Weinstein’s lawyers termed the sentence “obscene,” with the lead counsel stating that murderers often received lesser sentences.
After the sentencing, Weinstein was wheeled out of the courtroom, en route to his cell on Riker’s Island. However, he complained of chest pains, and was instead taken to Bellevue Hospital for examination. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office plans to extradite Weinstein soon.
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