Former Hollywood electricity broker Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Wednesday following his conviction for sexual assault and rape two weeks ago.
Weinstein, who turns 68 next week, will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.
There were gasps in the New York courtroom after sentencing judge James Burke, who presided over the trial.
The judge first reminded Weinstein that he had to register as a sex offender, then imposed almost the maximum available sentence – 20 years for first degree criminal sexual assault and three years for third rape consecutive degree.
The six women who testified against him – Miriam Haley, Jessica Mann, Annabella Sciorra, Tarale Wulff, Dawn Dunning and LaurenYoung – were seated in the front row of the courtroom, a fraternity of solidarity. Several of them let out sobs of relief when they heard the sentence.
Weinstein, who suffers from health problems, was handcuffed to his wheelchair and taken out of the courtroom. He was taken to Rikers Island Prison but soon after he was transferred back to Bellevue Hospital after complaining of chest pain.
Weinstein’s lawyers have said they will appeal the sentence.
Children’s drawings on the wall
She intervened after the verdict rendered on February 24 by a jury of 12 people who found her guilty of having practiced oral sex by force on the former production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006 and of having raped the former aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013, but not guilty of most serious charges of predatory sexual assault.
During his testimony in court about the attack, Haley described heartbreaking details like the children’s drawings on the bedroom wall of Manhattan’s Weinstein apartment, where he abused her.
Haley and Mann spoke in court Wednesday before the conviction.
Haley said that Weinstein had crushed part of his mind: “If he hadn’t been convicted of rape and sexual assault by this jury, it would have happened again and again.”
The former production assistant started to cry, describing how “excruciatingly stressful” the whole experience of witnessing had been for her. She said Weinstein stripped her of her dignity as a human being and as a woman. She described her trauma by saying, “It left a deep mark on me, mentally and emotionally, perhaps irreparably, perhaps forever.”
Jessica Mann, who wore a sweater that said “Give me love”, sometimes spoke in a shaky voice. She described the suffering of a rape victim: “Rape is not just a moment of penetration – it is forever.”
“It is time that people who rape other people pay their lives and their lives,” Mann told the court. “I have found my voice and I hope for a future where the monsters will no longer hide in our closet.”
Weinstein spoke for the first time
Weinstein, who chose not to testify at his sexual assault trial, spoke to the judge before his conviction in a low and sometimes unintelligible voice. This was a surprise as it was the first time he had spoken aloud in the courtroom during the entire trial. He said he felt “remorse for this situation” but at no point in his rambling monologue did he really apologize to his victims.
This feeling of regret rather, it turned out, was mainly for the other “thousands of men” who, according to him, lost due process. Men who are also charged and possibly could be convicted of sex offenses. “I am totally confused,” he said. “I think men are confused about these problems.”
Mann’s case was complicated because she had had a long relationship with Weinstein for years, including consensual oral sex. But the jurors agreed that Mann had not consented to sexual intercourse at the DoubleTree Hotel in March 2013. However, they decided that what had happened was not first-degree rape, because no force was involved. had been used.
There are three types of rape under New York law. Third degree rape is when an abuser has sex with another person who is unable to consent.
Upcoming Los Angeles Sexual Assault Charges
As the women who testified against Weinstein left the courtroom on Wednesday, reporters and members of the public in the outside hall applauded them.
Jessica Mann looked overwhelmed with emotion as she walked down the hall, smiling with tears in her eyes, gripping the hand of Lauren Young – another of Weinstein’s accusers.
Young’s allegation that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in a Beverly Hills hotel is behind one of the criminal charges laid by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.
Just hours after the Manhattan conviction, Los Angeles prosecutors said they had started Weinstein’s extradition process to California to face charges of sexual assault that had been laid in January.
Over 100 women have charged Weinstein with decades of sexual misconduct. The charges against him sparked the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment.
After Weinstein’s sentencing on Wednesday, the Silence Breakers – a group of 24 women, who say they were abused by the former producer – issued a statement saying that “no prison sentence will fix the lives he (Weinstein) ruined, the quarries it destroyed, or the damage it caused. “
They added that they would continue their “crusade for cultural change, justice and to make our voices heard”.