A Manhattan judge sentenced Harvey Weinstein to 23 years in prison Wednesday for rape and sexual assault. Weinstein, who was wheeled into the courtroom in a wheelchair just after 9:30 a.m., had faced a minimum of 5 years behind bars to a maximum of 29. As the six women who testified against Weinstein left the courtroom after his sentencing, some in the hall greeted them with applause.
Weinstein was convicted on February 24 of third-degree rape and criminal sexual act in the first degree for assaults on two women: Jessica Mann and Mimi Haleyi. Mann, once an aspiring actress, testified that Weinstein raped her at a Midtown East hotel in early 2013. Haleyi told jurors that Weinstein used force to perform oral sex on her at his Soho apartment in the summer of 2006. Weinstein, 67, was found not guilty of two predatory sexual-assault counts and not guilty of one first-degree rape count.
Mann and Haleyi were seated in the front right row of the courtroom for Weinstein’s sentencing. They were joined by Annabella Sciorra, whose accusation that Weinstein raped her around 1993 was part of two predatory sexual-assault counts. Three women who testified in court about alleged prior bad acts were also present in the front row: Tarale Wulff, Dawn Dunning, and Lauren Young. Rosie Perez, who also provided testimony backing up Sciorra’s allegations, was seated in the second row on the right.
“It scarred me deeply, mentally, and emotionally,” Haleyi said in a statement to the court Wednesday morning. At one point of her address, Haleyi broke into tears. “What he did not only stripped me of my dignity as a human being and a woman … it diminished my confidence and faith in people, and my confidence and faith in myself.”
Mann also addressed the court, and when she started, Weinstein initially looked at her.
“Your honor, the day my screams were heard from the witness room,” Mann said, alluding to February 3, when she broke down on cross-examination, and was subsequently brought out of the courtroom. “Those were screams that wanted to come out while Harvey was raping me.”
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi asked the judge to throw the book at Weinstein, saying, “Harvey Weinstein is a person who appeared to have it all: He had obtained wealth, prestige, and power in an occupation that to most people looking from the outside in, appeared to be one filled with fun and enjoyment.”
“He got drunk on the power,” she also said, adding shortly thereafter, “He held all the cards and played them at will.”
“He gets off asserting power … if he senses someone is hesitant, he pounces,” Illuzzi also said, citing a quote from a person who knew Weinstein and spoke to prosecutors.
Weinstein also addressed the court in a rambling, oft-inaudible statement.
“First of all, to all the women who testified, we may have different truths, but I have great remorse for all of you. I have great remorse for all the men and women going through this crisis right now in our country,” he said.
“The movement started basically with me,” he said. “I was the first example, and now there are thousands of men who are being accused.”
“I think that — I can’t help looking at Jessica and hope that something of our old friendship in me could emerge, but I’m sure, like me, they have lawyers, who say to them be careful of what you say,” he said.
Weinstein said he was confused, “under the impression” he had friendly relationships with Mann and Haleyi. Young shook her head during Weinstein’s strange soliloquy and at one point, she cried.
“I had wonderful times with these people,” he said.
“I’m totally confused,” he said. “Men are confused about all of these issues.”
Weinstein appeared to compare Me Too to McCarthyism and likened himself to Dalton Trumbo. The famed screenwriter, who was a communist, went to prison for almost a year for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
“You know, I just — dealing with the thousands of men and women who are losing due process, I’m worried about this country in a sense too. I’m worried there is a repeat of the blacklist there was in the 1950s when lots of men, like myself, Dalton Trumbo, one of the great examples, did not work, went to jail because people thought they were communists,” he said. “You know, there was a scare, and that is what happened, and I think that is what is happening now all over this country.”
“There are so many people, thousands of people who would say great things about me,” Weinstein also said.
The statement was largely self-serving, touting his charity work. He said his two ex-wives had no idea.
He said at the end: “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.”
Prosecutors had previously said in a March 6 letter that Weinstein “displayed a staggering lack of empathy, treating others with disdain and inhumanity” and “consistently advanced his own sordid desires and fixations over the well-being of others.”
Weinstein’s actions, they wrote, revealed a “lifetime of abuse towards others, sexual and otherwise,” and as such, “the People will ask the Court to impose a sentence that reflects the seriousness of defendant’s offenses, his total lack of remorse for the harm he has caused, and the need to deter him and others from engaging in further criminal conduct.”
Weinstein lawyer Arthur Aidala, in arguing for leniency, said people convicted for similar assaults have received far less than the maximum — citing two cases when the victims were incapacitated. Justice James Burke, who’s handling the Weinstein case, himself sentenced one man to seven and one-half years in prison, Aidala said.
Weinstein’s lead attorney, Donna Rotunno, said, “When you look at the allegations in this courtroom, you see one very small side of who Mr. Weinstein really is.”
“What we don’t see is the other side of everything that he’s done,” she claimed.
Rotunno claimed that “every celebrity that you could think of” was “thanking Mr. Weinstein” for his assistance prior to his fall. She said there is a saying “that he’s tied with god, the number of times people thank him.”
“Everyone wanted a piece of him,” Rotunno said. “That was not an easy position for someone to be in.”
Burke issued his decision after both sides’ legal arguments and victims’ statements.
“I will say that although this is a first conviction, it is not a first offense,” Burke said, ordering Weinstein to register as a sex offender.
When the sentence came down, someone in the room gasped.
When the six accusers left the courtroom to applause, they were deeply supportive of one another. Perez held Sciorra’s hand, Young held Mann’s, and Wulff and Haleyi embraced.
After the sentencing, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in a statement: “We thank the court for imposing a sentence that puts sexual predators and abusive partners in all segments of society on notice. We thank the survivors for their remarkable statements today and indescribable courage over the last two years.”
“Harvey Weinstein deployed nothing less than an army of spies to keep them silent. But they refused to be silent, and they were heard,” the statement also said. “Their words took down a predator and put him behind bars, and gave hope to survivors of sexual violence all across the world.”
Outside of court, Rotunno’s frustration was apparent. The “sentence that was just handed down by this court was obscene,” Rotunno said. “That number was obnoxious.”
“There are murderers who will get out … faster than Harvey Weinstein will.”
“I am overcome with anger at that number,” she also said. “I think that number is a cowardly number to give. I think the judge caved, just as I think the jury caved and I am not happy.”
Weinstein still faces charges of rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles. The four counts in L.A., announced just one day before jury selection began in his Manhattan trial, related to two separate women over a two-day span seven years ago. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said that Weinstein is charged with one count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, and sexual penetration by use of force for allegedly forcing his way into a woman’s hotel room on February 18, 2013, and then raping her.
Weinstein was also hit with one count of sexual battery by restraint for allegedly penning Young in the bathroom of his hotel suite and grabbing her breast on February 19, 2013. Young was one of the three witnesses who testified at Weinstein’s trial about prior, uncharged “bad acts.”
L.A. prosecutors sent out a statement saying they have “begun the process of extraditing defendant Weinstein to California to face the sexual-assault charges that were filed in January.”
It’s still unclear when he will be arraigned there, as a date has not yet been set.
Weinstein continues to face a litany of civil claims related to sexual-misconduct allegations. While there is a tentative $25 million agreement that could settle many of these claims, some women are opting out. The women refusing this settlement can continue pursuing their cases against Weinstein while he’s in prison.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated accordingly.