Harvey Weinstein, 67, has been sentenced to 23 years behind bars following his rape conviction in late February.
As Weinstein was pushed out of the courtroom in a wheelchair, prosecutors and his several accusers were greeted with cheers and applause.
Weinstein had been seated in front of an empty row reserved for his supporters as he listened to his accusers read impact statements. The former movie producer has been in New York state custody since a panel of 12 jurors found him guilty on two counts: one for raping the once-aspiring actor Jessica Mann in 2006 and another for forcing a sexual act on former production assistant Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi in 2013.
In court, Haleyi said she was “relieved that there are women out there who are safer because he’s not out there.” Mann told the room that her rape had been “preventable” because Weinstein was “a known offender whose previous crimes were covered up in a paper trail,” referencing Weinstein’s long history of settling abuse claims quietly, out of court.
“Rape is not just one moment of penetration. It is forever,” Mann said.
“I think men are confused about all of this ... Thousands of men are losing due process. I am worried about this country.”
Weinstein then spoke for the first time in his own defence.
“I am totally confused,” he said in a long speech in which he expressed “great remorse” toward his accusers. Weinstein has maintained that all of his sexual activity is consensual.
“I think men are confused about all of this,” he said. “Thousands of men are losing due process. I am worried about this country.”
Because the jury declined to convict him on the two most serious counts, which could have led to a life sentence, Weinstein had faced a maximum penalty of 29 years behind bars.
A group of 24 “silence breakers,” a term for the women who spoke out against Weinstein, praised Judge James Burke’s decision.
“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,” they said in a statement.
Following his Feb. 24 conviction, the New York Department of Corrections transferred him to the city’s notorious Rikers Island compound after a hospital stay on Manhattan’s east side to address Weinstein’s health concerns. He underwent heart surgery last week and was subsequently moved to the medical wing at Rikers, which has the added benefit of offering more protection to high-profile inmates.
Weinstein’s defence team sent a letter to Judge James Burke on Monday requesting no more than five years’ prison time ― the minimum ― by highlighting its client’s long history of charity work and lack of prior criminal history. His poor health and age, the team argued, citing life expectancy data, meant that a longer sentence could amount to a “de facto life sentence.”
Prosecutors asked that Burke hand down a sentence “that reflects the seriousness” of Weinstein’s offences and his “total lack of remorse for the harm he has caused.”
In a March 6 letter, prosecutors outlined a whopping 36 additional accusations against Weinstein that were drawn from two years of investigation but not included as part of the trial. They said he began trapping women in order to assault them starting in the 1970s, when he allegedly told a female employee of his Buffalo-based music company that there was only one hotel room left during a business trip. In the middle of the night, the woman told prosecutors, she woke up to find Weinstein raping her.
Several of the women described feeling afraid for their lives and the lingering trauma of what they endured.
Watch: Weinstein allegedly once wrote “Jen Aniston should be killed,” court documents show. Story continues below.
Weinstein’s Hollywood career came to a crashing halt in October 2017, when bombshell articles in both The New Yorker and The New York Times detailed sexual abuse claims by several women, whose accusations led dozens of others to come forward.
On Tuesday, a trove of unsealed documents revealed Weinstein’s desperate attempts to shore up private support in the days after the initial reports, as he fought to maintain control of his production house, The Weinstein Company. He emailed the likes of Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Apple’s Tim Cook and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, among other powerful executives and industry players, writing to explain that he planned to seek therapy.
One email showed the tension that had erupted between Weinstein and his brother, Bob Weinstein, who told him: “U deserve a lifetime achievement award for the sheer savagery and immorality and inhumanness, for the acts u have perpetrated. Oh I forgot. They were all consensual. Then what are u in rehab for? Sex addiction. Don’t think so.”
Harvey Weinstein’s trial was seen as a watershed moment for the Me Too movement, and his conviction a victory of sorts.
His legal troubles are ongoing. Criminal charges similar to the ones Weinstein faced in New York are pending in Los Angeles, while U.S. federal prosecutors are pursuing sex trafficking charges against Weinstein. British authorities are continuing their investigation into him as well, as about a dozen civil lawsuits remain pending.