Harvey Weinstein watches as Jessica Mann makes a statement during the sentencing following his conviction on sexual assault in New York City on Wednesday in this courtroom sketch. Reuters
Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Wednesday following his sexual assault and rape conviction last month in a case hailed as a victory for the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct, after he made an unrepentant statement to the court.
Harvey Weinstein leaves the courthouse during jury deliberations in his rape trial in New York. File / AP
The sentence was handed down in Manhattan criminal court by Justice James Burke, who presided over Weinstein's trial.
More than 100 women, including famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct stretching back decades, fueling the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment. Weinstein has denied the allegations and said that any sex was consensual.
A jury on Feb.24 found Weinstein, 67, guilty of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann.
"I feel remorse for all of the men who are going through this fight," Weinstein told the court before he was sentenced.
Weinstein said he was worried about "thousands of men" being denied due process in the #MeToo era. In a rambling statement, he said he was "confused" and that he believed he had a "serious friendship" with Mann and Haleyi.
Once one of Hollywood's most influential producers, Weinstein had faced the possibility of a maximum sentence of 29 years in prison.
Miriam Hailey (C) and Tarale Wulff (R) leave the courtroom following the sentencing of Harvey Weinstein. AFP
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance told reporters afterward that the judge "sent a message today that this type behavior is something that any potential offender is going to have to consider. The judge took it seriously, which is exactly how we think he should have. And we're grateful."
Weinstein, wearing a suit and sitting in a wheelchair, and the six women who testified against Weinstein were in court for the proceedings.
In an emotional statement in court, Haleyi spoke of the trauma she had endured since the attack, saying, "It scarred me deeply, mentally and emotionally, perhaps irreparably, perhaps forever." She said Weinstein has seemed "completely disconnected from the gravity of the crime he has committed against me."
Mann also addressed the court.
"I want to remind you I told Harvey, 'no,'" she told the court.
"I am forced to carry that experience until I die," Mann added.
Actress Lauren Young (C) arrives for the sentencing of Harvey Weinstein at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Wednesday. AFP
During the sentencing hearing, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi asked Burke to impose 25 years or "near" 25 years in prison for his conviction on a charge of criminal sexual act in the first degree involving Haleyi and to impose a consecutive sentence for the third-degree rape conviction involving Mann. That charge called for up to four years in prison, but the prosecution made no specific request.
Prosecutors in court filings last week said the sentence should reflect not only the crimes of which he was convicted, but a "lifetime of abuse towards others."
The jury of seven men and five women acquitted Weinstein on the most serious charges, a single count of first-degree rape as well as two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence. Those charges relied on testimony by actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in the early 1990s.
Attorney Gloria Allred speaks to the media at the New York Criminal Court following the sentencing of Harvey Weinstein. Reuters
Weinstein's lawyers on Monday urged Burke to impose the minimum possible sentence of five years, asking him to consider Weinstein's charitable activities while saying a longer sentence would likely mean Weinstein would die in prison.
"His life story, his accomplishments, and struggles are simply remarkable and should not be disregarded in total because of the jury's verdict," they said.
Weinstein has been awaiting sentencing in New York's Rikers Island jail, where he was moved last Thursday after a 10-day hospital stay at Bellevue Hospital where he underwent a procedure to clear a heart blockage.
He was a powerful figure in Hollywood and a contributor to Democratic candidates. He won an Academy Award for producing "Shakespeare in Love" and was responsible for other acclaimed films including "Pulp Fiction," "The English Patient" and "Gangs of New York."
Prosecutors portrayed Weinstein as a serial predator who had manipulated women with promises of career advancement in Hollywood, coaxing them to hotel rooms or private apartments and then overpowering and violently attacking them.
Lauren Young (L) and victim Jessica Mann (R) exit the courtroom after listening to the sentencing for Harvey Weinstein. Reuters
Haleyi testified at the trial that Weinstein invited her to his home in 2006 after she had worked on one of his television productions, backed her into a bedroom, held her down on the bed and forced himself on her orally.
Mann told jurors that Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in March 2013, about a month into what she described as an "extremely degrading" relationship with him that continued for several years after the attack. Mann called Weinstein a "Jekyll and Hyde" character, charming in public but prone to rage when they were alone.
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