Harvey Weinstein Sentenced to 23 Years for Rape, Forced Sex Act

MANHATTAN (CN) — A New York judge sentenced ex-Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to 23 years in prison Wednesday for two forced sex acts perpetrated against women in the entertainment business in 2006 and 2013.

Weinstein expressed remorse to his victims and family at the hearing Wednesday but also conveyed that he was “totally confused” by the #MeToo movement that obliterated his Hollywood legacy and ultimately led to his convictions last month of a criminal sex act and rape in the third degree.

A New York jury found the 67-year-old guilty on Feb. 24 of forcibly performing oral sex on a former “Project Runway” production assistant, Miriam Haley, in his Manhattan apartment in 2006 and of raping an aspiring actress, Jessica Mann, at a Midtown Manhattan hotel in 2013.

Harvey Weinstein, center, leaves Manhattan’s Criminal Court after prosecutors completed their closing argument in his rape trial on Feb. 14, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Both women sat in the front row Wednesday for sentencing, alongside alongside “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra who had testified in support of predatory sexual behavior counts but whose own alleged rape by Weinstein is too old to prosecute.

Rosie Perez, a fellow actress who corroborated Sciorra’s testimony, sat next to attorney Gloria Allred in the second row of the courtroom gallery.

In the lead-up to Weinstein’s courtroom apology, Haleyi and Mann each delivered victim-impact statements.

“He’s completely disconnected from the gravity of the crime he has committed against me,” Haley, 42, said of Weinstein.

Saying the defendant had gone to trial without any hint of remorse or self-awareness, Haleyi asked the judge to order a sentence “long enough for Harvey Weinstein to acknowledge what he has done to me and others and to be truly sorry.”

Mann meanwhile spoke directly to her trauma as a rape victim, showing some confidence Wednesday that seemed to evade her at trial, where her testimony against Weinstein was, in her own words, “foggy.”

“Your honor, the day my screams were heard from the witness room,” Mann said, referring to her testimony on Feb. 3, when she began sobbing uncontrollably during cross-examination and was subsequently removed from the courtroom. “Those were screams that wanted to come out while Harvey was raping me.”

Now 34, Mann described that at the time of the 2013 attack she froze into a rape-induced state of paralysis “when the brain assesses that fight-or-flight is not possible.”

“I ask you to consider the horrors of being rendered immobile … while he pleasured himself inside of my body,” she said.

Weinstein had not testified at the trial but spoke for 15 minutes Wednesday in a statement that was alternately remorseful and still in denial.

“I had wonderful times with these people,” Weinstein said about Mann and Haley.

Expressing his bafflement on the #MeToo movement that led to his reckoning, Weinstein likened the current social climate to the McCarthyism in 1950s. “It was a scare,” he said. “That’s what’s happening all over this country.”

“I think men are confused about all of this,” Weinstein said. “This feeling of thousands of men and women who are losing due process. … I’m worried about this country.”

Weinstein addressing his victims directly in a low grumble, talking about how therapy during rehabilitation made him see the error of his ways. But he also said that characterizations of his stature in Hollywood had been exaggerated. “I had no great powers in this industry,” he said. “Miramax, at the height of its fame, was a small firm.”

“I couldn’t blackball anybody,” he added.

With the defendant’s statement, Judge James Burke concluding the hearing. After quickly registering Weinstein as a sex offender, Burke read the sentences and adjourned the hearing.

Weinstein’s local counsel, Arthur Aidala, fumed to reporters outside of the courthouse that the judge had imposed a sentence three times the state average without an explanation.

“It reeks of his prejudice,” said Aidala, who promised  a “perfect appeal” to New York City’s First Department appellate court on July 13, with oral arguments on the appeal in the late fall.

Weinstein faced a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 25 years in prison on the count criminal sex act, while the third-degree rape count carried a maximum penalty of four years in prison. He got 20 years for the sex act, plus three for the rape count.

The erstwhile industry powerhouse behind “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction” had also been charged but ultimately acquitted of rape in the first degree and two counts of predatory sexual assault.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance issued a statement after the hearing thanking the court and thanking the women who spoke out. “Harvey Weinstein deployed nothing less than an army of spies to keep them silent,” Vance said. “But they refused to be silent, and they were heard. Their words took down a predator and put him behind bars, and gave hope to survivors of sexual violence all across the world.”

In a letter filed Friday, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon implored the court to order a sentence that reflected Weinstein’s “total lack of remorse for the harm he has caused.”

The prosecution’s 11-page sentencing memo included a chronicle of dozens of uncharged sexual assaults and examples of workplace abuses dating back to 1978 to “show a lifetime of abuse toward others, sexual and otherwise.”

lluzzi said Weinstein’s sentence should send a deterrent message affirming that workplace sexual assaults would be prosecuted and offenders punished.

The memo by Illuzzi-Orbon called it “totally appropriate in this case to communicate to a wider audience that sexual assault, even if perpetrated upon an acquaintance or in a professional setting, is a serious offense worthy of a lengthy prison sentence.”

Weinstein’s defense team meanwhile urged the judge to rule for the minimum sentence of five years imprisonment.

Damon Cheronis, Weinstein’s Chicago-based defense attorney, wrote that any sentence higher than the minimum would likely serve as an unintentional life sentence for Weinstein who turns 68 on March 19.

“Given his age and specific medical risk factors, any additional term of imprisonment above the mandatory minimum — although the grave reality is that Mr. Weinstein may not even outlive that term — is likely to constitute a de facto life sentence,” Cheronis wrote.

The defense attorney also argued that the 36 prior bad acts prosecutors included in their sentencing letter “do not constitute ‘relevant conduct’… and even if proven, would not be proper for consideration at sentencing.”

First arrested in New York in late May 2018, Weinstein remained free on bail since the state first brought charges against him.

Weinstein also faces charges in Los Angeles for allegedly groping model and actress Lauren Young in his hotel suite in Beverly Hills in 2013. If convicted on the two counts in the California case, he faces up to 28 years in prison.

Immediately following the Manhattan sentencing hearing, the Los Angeles County District Attorney announced Wednesday that it begun process to extradite Weinstein on a four-count indictment for rape initially filed in January.

In their letter to the court, Weinstein’s attorneys described how the initial 2017 publication of the accusations against him The New Yorker completely “destroyed” Weinstein’s personal and professional life.

Long before the New York trial was underway, Weinstein was already convicted in the media and the court of public opinion, his attorneys wrote.

“[His] fall from grace has been historic, perhaps unmatched in the age of social media,” Weinstein’s attorneys said.

“Deserved or not, this is certainly a unique and extremely severe consequence that Mr. Weinstein had to endure, and in the age of social media and given his fame,” they added.

%d bloggers like this: