Harvey Weinstein jailed for 23 years

 

Disgraced Hollywood movie titan Harvey Weinstein once knew no bounds but now he's unlikely to ever taste freedom again.

The 67-year-old convicted rapist was today sentenced to 23 years in prison for raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman, TV and film production assistant Miriam Haley, in 2006. He faced a maximum of 29 years behind bars.

"This is a first conviction, but it is not a first offence," New York Supreme Court Justice James Burke said while handing down the sentence on Wednesday morning local time.

The Oscar-winning producer, wearing a navy blue suit, arrived handcuffed at the Manhattan court from Rikers Island jail in a wheelchair, as all six of his accusers who testified at his trial sat united in the front row.

Speaking in court moments before learning of his fate - and for the first time during his trial - Weinstein told his victims he had "great remorse" but showed little contrition.

"We may have different truths, but I have remorse for all of you and for all the men going through this crisis," he said, speaking more broadly about #MeToo accusations.

"The movement basically started with me … now there are thousands of men who are being accused."

 

 

Weinstein said he "believed" he had a "serious friendship" with Ms Haley and Ms Mann and suggested his sexual encounters with them were consensual.

"I'm not going to say that these aren't great people," he said, before adding that he was "totally confused" by the charges.

"I've had wonderful times with these people.

"I can't stop looking at Jessica and Mimi and hoping something maybe from our old relationship could emerge."

Weinstein told the court he had "said bad things to people" but insisted there were "thousands of people who would say great things about (him)." He didn't appear to have a single family member in court to support him throughout his trial. At his sentencing, the rows of seats behind Weinstein remained largely empty.

 

 

Weinstein said he was "worried about this country in a sense" in relation to the #MeToo movement.

"I think men are confused about all of this … this feeling of thousands of men and women who are losing due process," he continued.

"This is not the right atmosphere in the United States of America."

 

 

'RAPE IS FOREVER'

The once powerful film producer also played down his influence on the industry.

"I had no great powers," he told the court.

Weinstein said he hadn't seen his "three older children since the New York Times [and] the New Yorker articles came out", referring to the original reports of his widespread abuse.

"That for me is hell on earth," he said.

"I may never see my children again."

"If I had to a lot of things over, I would care less about movies and more about my children and my family."

But New York Supreme Court Justice James Burke was unmoved and handed Weinstein a 20 year prison sentence for the felony attack on Ms Haley and an additional three years for the rape of Ms Mann. Moments later, Weinstein was wheeled out to a Corrections van for transportation to a New York State prison. His victims and accusers, including actress Anabella Sciorra, hugged each other and wept as they realised justice had been served.

 

 

In her victim impact statement on Wednesday, Ms Haley told the court she had "no reason to believe (Weinstein) would force sexual violence upon me, but that's exactly what he did".

Ms Haley said Weinstein - who watched on in an apparent state of disbelief as both victims delivered their statements - had "scarred her deeply, mentally and emotionally".

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

"What he did not only stripped me of my dignity as a human being and a woman, but it crushed my confidence."

Ms Mann described the emotional damage inflicted upon her.

"I don't know how to explain the horrors of being raped by someone who has power," she said.

"The impact on the psyche is profound.

"Rape is not just one moment … it is forever."

 

 

 

 

WEINSTEIN'S LAWYERS SLAM SENTENCE: 'OBNOXIOUS'

Speaking outside court after the sentencing, lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents three of the accusers, warned "confused" sexual predators to take heed of Weinstein's sentence of "20 plus three years".

"For all those who are still preying on women … and thinking you'll get away with it … that gamble is unlikely to pay off for you anymore," she said.

Weinstein's lawyer Donna Rotunno described the "number handed down by the court" as "obscene" and "cowardly".

"Of course it's too harsh. It's ridiculous," she told reporters.

"That number was obnoxious.

"There are murderers who will get out of prison sooner.

"I am overcome with anger at that number … I think the judge caved … as I believed the jury caved."

She said "Harvey feels terrible" and "very sad" in response to the outcome.

"I'm happy that he spoke … he's been silent for years," she said.

Weinstein's legal team filed court documents late Monday claiming a prison term longer than the mandatory minimum would essentially be "a de facto life sentence" for their client.

The most serious charge carried a sentence of five to 25 years in prison and the second carried a minimum probationary period and a maximum four-year jail term.

"The grave reality is that Mr. Weinstein may not even outlive that term," the lawyers wrote in a letter to New York Supreme Court Justice James Burke.

 

 

The lawyers also asked Mr Burke to take into account that Weinstein's life was "destroyed" and that he had "lost everything".

"Mr Weinstein was constantly maligned by the media, having long since been convicted in the court of public opinion," the document read.

"His fall from grace has been historic, perhaps unmatched in the age of social media."

Weinstein's lawyer Arthur Aidala previously told news.com.au his team will appeal the convictions which he described as "disappointing".

 

A torrent of allegations against Weinstein in October 2017 spawned the #MeToo movement.

In total, more than 100 women have accused the father-of-five of sexual misconduct dating back decades. Most of the accusers, who refer to themselves as "the Silence Breakers", weren't involved in his prosecution.

 

 

A total of six accusers testified as part of a prosecution effort to show he used the same tactics to victimise many others over the years.

In often emotional testimony stretching over three weeks, Weinstein's accusers described in explicit detail how he lured them to hotels in New York and Los Angeles on the pretence of promoting their acting careers before sexually assaulting them.

 

 

 

He was convicted of first degree sexual assault and third degree rape on February 24.

The jury acquitted 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.

His trial was considered a watershed moment for the cause and has been watched closely by #MeToo activists, many of whom doubted for years that Weinstein's alleged mistreatment of women would ever result in legal action.

Weinstein is also scheduled to face trial in Los Angeles, where he is charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents in 2013. He has not yet entered a plea in that case.

 

 

megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin



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