Disgraced former Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison Wednesday for his conviction last month for two criminal sexual acts, including third-degree rape.
Weinstein spoke before sentencing, saying: “Thousands of men are losing due process. I’m worried about this country.”
The stunning sentence was nearly the maximum 29-year term he faced behind bars, despite being acquitted in a New York courtroom of two more serious counts of predatory sexual assault.
A jury found Weinstein guilty of a first-degree sexual act and third-degree rape on Feb. 24.
For his conviction on the first-degree count of criminal sexual act, Weinstein was given 20 years plus five years of supervised release. On the other convicted charge, third-degree rape, he was sentenced to three years. Judge James Burke chose to let the sentences run consecutively.
“Although this is a first conviction, it is not a first offense,” Burke said. “There is evidence before me of other incidents of sexual assault involving other women.”
Reports say Weinstein described being “totally confused” by the all the events which led to his downfall, but also expressed remorse, according to news reports.
“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,” said Weinstein, according to The New York Times.
Both women that Weinstein was convicted of assaulting — a once-aspiring actress and a former TV and film production assistant — spoke in court Wednesday before the sentence, according to The Associated Press, which withheld the victims’ names because it was not clear whether they wished to be identified.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution aims to protect the identity of victims of sexual assaults. In rare cases, a victim may request to reveal their identity, and we handle those situations case by case.
One of Weinstein’s victims broke down in tears as she recounted the 2006 attack that left her deeply scarred.
“I believe that if Harvey Weinstein was not convicted by this jury, it would have happened again and again and again,” she said during the proceedings, according to AP. “The day my screams were heard from the witness room was the day my voice came back to its full power. Rape is not just one moment of penetration. It is forever.”
AP reports that four of Weinstein’s accusers who testified against him during the trial sat together in the courtroom audience but were not permitted to speak under New York law.
A day before sentencing, Weinstein asked Judge Burke to show mercy after a “historic fall from grace” fueled by social media and the #MeToo movement.
The 67-year-old also has increasing serious health issues, according to news reports.
On Tuesday, Weinstein's lawyers sent a letter to Burke, asking for a five-year sentence, and saying anything more than that would constitute a life sentence.
“He has lost his means to earn a living. Simply put, his fall from grace has been historic, perhaps unmatched in the age of social media," the lawyers said in the court filing, adding that he “cannot walk outside without being heckled.”
Weinstein’s health has been the subject of questions since the beginning of his trial.
He looked frail and showed up everyday using a walker because he had been in a car accident, according to his lawyers. After his conviction, he spent more than a week at Bellevue Hospital, where he underwent heart surgery after experiencing high blood pressure and heart palpitations.
CNN reports that Weinstein felt dizzy and fell down Sunday at Rikers Island jail complex, where he is being held before being transferred to the state prison system.
“Harvey says his head throbs all the time and thinks he has a concussion. He has not been officially diagnosed,” Englemayer said, according to CNN.
“The grave reality is that Mr. Weinstein may not even outlive that term,” the lawyers wrote, arguing against a “de facto life sentence.”
The letter also asked the judge to consider Weinstein's charitable donations he made while he was still a powerful Hollywood persona, according to Fox News.
Weinstein faced five charges in his New York trial. He was found guilty of two − criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. He was acquitted on two counts of predatory sexual assault and rape in the first degree.
He still faces trial on similar charges in California.
Entertainment Tonight reported Wednesday that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has “begun the process of extraditing defendant [Harvey] Weinstein to California to face the sexual assault charges that were filed in January.” The DA's office says no arraignment date has been set.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office says they have "begun the process of extraditing defendant [Harvey] Weinstein to California to face the sexual assault charges that were filed in January." The DA's office says no arraignment date has been set.— Brendon Geoffrion (@tv_brendon) March 11, 2020
The New York Times later confirmed the report.
The news outlet also reported that a representative issued a statement on Weinstein’s behalf, calling the sentence "a miscarriage of justice.”
On Tuesday, prosecutors called on the judge to punish Weinstein for “a lifetime of abuse toward others, sexual and otherwise,” and for “his total lack of remorse for the harm he has done.”
The Associated Press reports that Weinstein will be transferred from the city’s jail system to the state prison system. There, he will undergo a thorough evaluation, including a comprehensive medical review, to determine which facility is best for his physical and security needs.
Weinstein was the name behind Academy Award-winning films such as “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction.”
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Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC