Harvey Weinstein (67) has just been sentenced to 23 years in prison in New York. The former film producer was deemed guilty of rape and assault last month, for which he could have been sentenced to a maximum of 29 years.
At the end of February, a jury of seven men and five women ruled that Harvey Weinstein, once one of the most influential film producers, was guilty of the rape of actress Jessica Mann in 2013 and the assault of production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006. Weinstein was found guilty of two of the five allegations: criminal sexual abuse with premeditation and rape without premeditation. For that, he can receive 25 and 4 years in prison, respectively. In total, Weinstein now has to serve 23 years in prison. He was advised 20 years for criminal sexual abuse with premeditation and three years for rape without premeditation. He must serve his sentences successively and will be supervised for another five years. Judge James Burke said in the ruling against Weinstein: “This may be your first conviction, but it is not your first crime.”
However, the defense demanded only five years in prison for Weinstein, the absolute minimum. His lawyers state that the judge should take into account the advanced age of the producer, his medical problems, and his lack of criminal history. “His wife left him, he was fired from The Weinstein Company – in short: he lost everything.” The prosecutors, on the other hand, asked for a punishment “proportional to the seriousness of his crimes.” Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi, therefore, asked Judge James Burke for the maximum sentence of 25 years.
The six women who testified against Weinstein at the trial – Haleyi, Mann, actress Annabella Sciorra, and three other women – sat in the front row on Wednesday to hear the sentence. Haleyi brought another emotional testimony. “The attack hit me deeply,” she said. “Mentally and emotionally, possibly irreparable, possibly forever.” She added that the past few years had been “unbearably stressful,” and that she was relieved that Weinstein was not above the law either. “He has not only stripped me of my dignity as a person and as a woman … It has also diminished my confidence and belief in myself.”
Jessica Mann asked Judge Burke to grant the maximum sentence for rape: “I want the gift of knowing where Weinstein is at all times,” she said. “Twelve people found Harvey unanimously guilty of rape. That is not an easy task.” She was surprised that he could get a maximum of four years in prison for her rape. “Why am I not worth more than cocaine?”
Weinstein himself arrived in a wheelchair. He has been struggling with medical problems for some time. Immediately after his conviction in February, he was transferred to the Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. 67-year-old Weinstein complained about chest pain and appeared to have high blood pressure. In the hospital, he underwent treatment whereby a blockage in the veins near his heart was removed, according to his spokesperson. Last week, the former film producer was finally transferred to prison Rikers Island, where he would stay until his sentence was announced today.
He also spoke to those present in the courtroom. “I do feel remorse,” he said, barely audible. “I feel it deep in my heart. I will spend my time trying to become a better person.” Yet he also lashed out at the justice system: “I’m worried about this country,” he said. “We are now going through a crisis in our country that has primarily started with me. I was the first example, and meanwhile, many men have been accused of abuse, something I think none of us have understood,” he continued. And about the women who accused him, he said: “I’m not going to say they weren’t great people. I have had a great time with them.”
After the conviction, Weinstein is transferred to a rescue center in Fishkill, New York. He will then be taken to a prison in the state of New York to serve his sentence. As part of his reception procedure, the former film producer is said to have to take a shower and be deflated. He must then watch a video to prevent suicide. Regarding the latter, Weinstein is likely to be closely monitored after financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in the federal prison of Manhattan. “They are going to make sure nothing happens to him,” said former security guard Martin Horn. “Not because it is important, but simply from the point of view of public relations. That would be incredibly embarrassing.”