Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years in prison for sexual assault
Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison Wednesday in a New York courtroom.
Weinstein, 67, arrived to his sentencing hearing in a wheelchair and handcuffs. The former movie producer faced between five and 29 years for last month’s convictions on first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape.
The charges were based on testimony in a New York courtroom by Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann, who both spoke at the sentencing.
“If Harvey Weinstein had not been convicted by this jury, it would have happened again and again and again,” Haley said Wednesday in court. “I’m relieved he will now know he’s not above the law. I’m relieved there are women out there who are safer because he’s not out there.”
Haley and the five other women who testified against Weinstein at his trial — Mann, actress Annabella Sciorra and three “prior bad acts” witnesses — arrived to court with prosecutors and sat in the front row. Actress Rosie Perez, who testified in support of Sciorra’s claims, walked in with them and sat in the second row.
Weinstein was acquitted of two more serious charges of predatory sexual assault, which could have come with a life sentence. Still, he faces five to 25 years in prison for the criminal sexual act charge, and up to four years in prison for the rape charge.
Judge James Burke decided the sentence for each charge.
Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon on Wednesday asked Burke to sentence Weinstein to the maximum or near the maximum sentence, with the sentences served concurrently.
Defense attorneys have asked that he get the minimum possible sentence: five years. Anything more than that is “basically the death penalty,” defense attorney Arthur Aidala said, citing Weinstein’s health and age. He called him a “broken down man.”
Weinstein has been in state custody since the verdict and has had several health issues. He had a heart procedure last week during which doctors inserted a stent, and on Sunday he fell while at Rikers Island jail, his publicist Juda Engelmayer told CNN.
Victims describe how Weinstein changed their lives
In court before the sentence was handed down, Haley broke down crying Wednesday during her victim impact statement as she described being assaulted by Weinstein.
“I believe that when he attacked me that evening with physical force, with no regard for my cries and protests, it scarred me deeply — mentally and emotionally,” Haley said.
Haley said the past two years have been excruciating, filled with paranoia and fear of retaliation daily. And while testifying against Weinstein was difficult, it did help Haley process what happened to her, she said.
Haley felt Weinstein showed a lack of remorse or acknowledgment for his crimes, she said, and she asked the judge to consider a sentence “long enough for Harvey Weinstein to acknowledge what he has done.”
Mann minutes later asked Burke to impose the maximum sentence for rape in the third degree, with sentences served concurrently.
Mann wants the “gift” of knowing exactly where Weinstein is at all times, she said, adding she hopes he’ll be rehabilitated in prison.
“Twelve people found Harvey unanimously guilty of raping me. That is not an easy task,” she said.
Mann also referenced drug charges that she said carry longer sentence recommendations than third-degree rape.
“How am I not worth more than cocaine?” she said.
Michelle Simpson Tuegel, an attorney who has worked in criminal defense, had said she did not expect Weinstein to speak at his sentencing because anything he says could be used against him in his appeal or in future cases.
Weinstein also faces felony charges of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint in Los Angeles. Prosecutors say he raped one woman and sexually assaulted another in separate incidents over a two-day period in February 2013.
Weinstein has not yet turned himself in or been arraigned on the California charges.
He has denied all allegations of “nonconsensual sexual activity” related to the New York case and other claims made against him.
Defense asks for 5 years in prison
Illuzzi-Orbon on Wednesday referenced the submitted sentencing memo that she said detailed additional accounts of victims of Weinstein’s abuse and show his lack of human empathy, selfishness, and a life rooted in criminality.
One assistant told prosecutors Weinstein threatened to kill her and her entire family, Illuzzi-Orbon said.
The prosecutor also described the glamorous lifestyle Weinstein lived as a giant of the movie industry.
“He got drunk on the power,” Illuzzi-Orbon said. “Young struggling dreamers were not real people to him.”
Illuzzi-Orbon read a profile of Weinstein given to hotel employees in which they were cautioned, “Do not go near the car. Do not speak at him. Do not look at him. Stay away.”
Illuzzi-Orbon thanked the six women who testified against Weinstein and thanked them for attending the sentencing hearing. She also thanked the news media for its coverage. And she thanked Burke, noting that the trial lasted a week longer than anticipated.
Illuzzi-Orbon also noted Weinstein’s significant legal representation, saying she thought his defense team made every reasonable argument it should have and could have made on his behalf.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued in an 11-page court filing last week that Weinstein should receive a sentence that “reflects the seriousness of defendant’s offenses.” He led a “lifetime of abuse towards others, sexual and otherwise,” prosecutors argued, and they highlighted three dozen uncharged incidents and accusations.
“Starting in the 1970s, he has trapped women into his exclusive control and assaulted or attempted to assault them,” Illuzzi-Orbon wrote in a letter.
However, Weinstein’s defense attorneys requested a five-year prison sentence, the minimum for his criminal sexual act conviction, according to a sentencing letter provided by his spokesman.
His attorneys wrote that Weinstein’s personal charitable giving, advanced age, medical issues and lack of a criminal history should lead to a lower sentence. They wrote that his life “has been destroyed” since the publication of an article in The New Yorker in October 2017 that alleged systemic abuse of women in the entertainment industry.
“His wife divorced him, he was fired from The Weinstein Company, and in short, he lost everything,” the attorneys wrote.
The attorneys also cited the “collateral consequences” he continues to face.
“Mr. Weinstein cannot walk outside without being heckled, he has lost his means to earn a living, simply put, his fall from grace has been historic, perhaps unmatched in the age of social media,” according to the letter signed by attorneys Damon Cheronis, Donna Rotunno and Aidala.
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