Harvey Weinstein Is Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison

Harvey Weinstein Is Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison

Harvey Weinstein, the once powerful movie producer, ruled Hollywood for decades, making and breaking careers, racking up Oscars and reshaping the film industry.

But on Wednesday, after years of private complaints about his abuse of women burst into public scandal, he was sentenced in a Manhattan courtroom to 23 years in prison for raping one woman and sexually assaulting another.

The startling sentence meant that Mr. Weinstein, who is 67 and in poor health, might spend the rest of his life in prison. Just before the sentencing, Mr. Weinstein, who was sitting in a wheelchair, told the court that he was remorseful, but also “totally confused” about what had happened to him.

The sentence marked a significant milestone in the #MeToo movement, which ignited after several women openly accused Mr. Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment. Women around the globe shifted the cultural landscape as they began to speak about mistreatment at the hands of powerful men.

Justice James A. Burke, who presided over the trial in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, could have sentenced Mr. Weinstein to as little as five years, but he heeded the arguments of prosecutors who urged him to hand down a long sentence.

Two of Mr. Weinstein’s victims gave emotional statements about the damage he had done to them. Miriam Haley, who testified Mr. Weinstein forced oral sex on her in 2006, said he had forever altered her life, crushing her spirit.

“He violated my trust and my body and my personal right to deny sexual advances,” she said.

Given a chance to speak, Mr. Weinstein suggested in a rambling speech to the court that he thought his relationships with his victims were consensual.

“We may have different truths, but I have remorse for all of you and for all the men going through this crisis,” he said, addressing his accusers.

He added: “I really feel remorse for this situation. I feel it deeply in my heart. I’m really trying, I’m really trying to be a better person.”

Justice Burke was unmoved. He gave Mr. Weinstein 20 years for the felony attack on Ms. Haley and an additional three years for the rape of Jessica Mann, an aspiring actress who testified he had forced himself on her in a Manhattan hotel in 2013.

Six women had given graphic accounts on the witness stand of Mr. Weinstein’s sexual assaults, and they all entered the courtroom together on Wednesday, sitting in the front row of the gallery, just behind the prosecution’s table. Some sobbed as the sentence was announced.

Next to them sat the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. The rows behind Mr. Weinstein were largely empty.

A Manhattan jury of seven men and five women found Mr. Weinstein guilty on Feb. 25 of first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape.

After five days of deliberations, however, the jury acquitted Mr. Weinstein of the most serious charges against him: two counts of predatory sexual assault, which required prosecutors to prove that he had committed a serious sexual assault against at least two women.

Arguing for a lengthy sentence, prosecutors had pointed to a long list of allegations from women who said Mr. Weinstein had sexually assaulted them over four decades. The earliest allegation, prosecutors noted, was from a woman who said he raped her on a business trip in 1978. The lead prosecutor, Joan Illuzzi, told the court people who knew Mr. Weinstein described him as a sociopathic manipulator. She described him as a “monster” who used his power in the film industry to prey on women.

“He walked the red carpet and mingled with the stars and held the dreams of many people in his hands,” she said. “He saw no limit to what he could take.”

Mr. Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, said before sentencing that the intense coverage of Mr. Weinstein’s case made a fair trial impossible.

“Mr. Weinstein came with the forces of the media and the forces of the world pushing against the chance to have a real impartial jury in this case,” she said.

She urged the judge to take into account Mr. Weinstein’s fragile health in sentencing, noting that a long sentence would be “a de facto life sentence.”

Before Mr. Weinstein was charged, reports about his sexual misconduct had been circulating in Hollywood for decades, even as the producer won critical acclaim for Oscar-winners like “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction.”

But in late 2017, several of his accusers went public in exposés published by The New York Times and The New Yorker. Since then, more than 90 women have accused Mr. Weinstein of misconduct, including harassment, inappropriate touching and sexual assault.

Recently unsealed court documents show that, in the weeks after the articles were published, Mr. Weinstein and his team scrambled to come up with a response.

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