Harvey Weinstein enters a Manhattan court house as a jury continues with deliberations in his trial on February 24, 2020 in New York City. prison.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Film producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced Wednesday to 23 years in prison for a rape and sex assault case that ignited the #MeToo movement in the United States.
That sentence in Manhttan Supreme Court was less than the maximum 29 years requested by prosecutors, but could amount to an effective life sentence behind bars for the 67-year-old Weinstein, who has been in apparently frail health.
And the sentence also was far higher than the minimum of five years in prison, which his lawyers requested from Judge James Burke.
Watching in the courtroom were all of the women who had testified at trial against the once-feared mogul, who was convicted Feb. 24 of rape and committing a criminal sexual act more than two years after explosive news articles about his alleged serial sexual abuse of women.
“He has been using and abusing people his whole life,” said prosecutor Joan Illuzzi after Weinstein was rolled into the courtroom in a wheelchair for the hearing.
The producer of films including “Pulp Fiction,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “Gangs of New York” was found not guilty of the most serious charges: two counts of predatory sexual assault for which he could have been sentenced to life in prison. He also was acquitted of first-degree rape.
“I am totally confused,” Weinstein told Burke before he was sentenced, according to Variety. “I think men are confused about all of this … this feeling of thousands of men and women who are losing due process, I’m worried about this country.”
Jurors found him guilty of committing a first-degree criminal sexual act by forcibly performing oral sex on production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006.
He also had been convicted of third-degree rape for attacking aspiring actress Jessica Mann in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013.
Weinstein was sentenced to 20 years for the attack on Haleyi and another three years in prison, to be served consecutively, for the rape of Mann.
Defense lawyers plan to appeal Weinstein’s conviction.
Both Haleyi and Mann gave statements in court before Weinstein was sentenced.
“Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra had testified at the trial that she was raped by Weinstein in her apartment around 26 years ago.
Sciorra’s allegations were not the subject of a separate charge against Weinstein. But her testimony, along with that of five other women, was permitted by the judge to allow prosecutors to show a pattern of conduct by Weinstein to prove that he was guilty of predatory sexual assault against Mann and Haley.
Scores of other women have publicly accused Weinstein of sexually assaulting them or engaging in less severe forms of sexual misconduct. He has denied all such allegations.
Weinstein still faces pending criminal charges in Los Angeles, where where prosecutors in January accused him of raping one woman and sexually assaulting a second woman over a two-day period in 2013.
Weinstein has been in custody since his conviction.
He originally was taken to a medical jail unit at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, but recently was shipped to the notorious Rikers Island jail complex in New York City.
He will serve his sentence in an upstate New York prison.
The Silence Breakers, a group of Weinstein’s accusers, released a statement after the sentencing hearing.
“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,” the group said.
“The Silence Breaker community was founded on solidarity, support, and compassion. The New York trial has ended, but the Silence Breakers will persist in our crusade for cultural change, justice and to have our voices heard.”
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