Harvey Weinstein was convicted in February on charges of first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape

By Jeff Truesdell and Greg Hanlon
March 11, 2020 11:05 AM
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Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison in a New York City courtroom after his February conviction on charges of first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape, according to multiple reports.

Under the law, the judge could have imposed a sentence of up to 29 years. Prosecutors had asked for the maximum while Weinstein’s defense attorneys argued for the minimum sentence of five years.

In February, jurors acquitted Weinstein, 67, of three other charges including the most severe charge, predatory sexual assault, which would have carried a sentence of 10 years to life in prison, The Washington Post reports.

Although more than 80 women have claimed they were victimized by Weinstein, according to The New York Times, the charges in the Manhattan trial were focused on only two women: former production assistant Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi and aspiring actress Jessica Mann.

Haleyi, who testified at trial that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his apartment in 2006, said at his sentencing, “I believe that if Harvey Weinstein was not convicted by this jury, it would happen again and again and again,” according to the Associated Press.

Mann told the courtroom on Monday that her 2013 rape was “preventable,” reports USA Today. “This was a known offender whose previous crimes were covered up in a paper trail” of non-disclosure agreements, she said. “I am forced to carry that experience until I die. It is a recurring nightmare that I feel is just as real as when it happened.”

The New York Daily News reports that Weinstein, who appeared in court in a wheelchair, said before his sentencing, “I can’t stop looking at Jessica and Mimi and hoping something maybe from our old relationship could emerge.”

The outlet reports the disgraced movie mogul added, “I think men are confused by all these issues … There’s so many people, thousands of people, who would say great things about me.”

Prosecutors had asked for the maximum sentence for Weinstein. Prior to the hearing, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued in a court filing Weinstein’s sentence should reflect “the seriousness of defendant’s offenses,” CNN reports.

He led a “lifetime of abuse towards others, sexual and otherwise,” the filing stated.

Weinstein’s attorneys had argued for a five-year sentence, citing his advanced age, medical problems, lack of criminal history and charitable contributions.

“His wife divorced him, he was fired from The Weinstein Company, and in short, he lost everything,” the attorneys wrote, NBC reports.

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
| Credit: Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Weinstein, a producer behind 20 best-picture Oscar nominees — his five winners in the category include Shakespeare in Love, Chicago and The King’s Speech — had fiercely denied the allegations, countering that his sexual encounters with the two accusers in the New York case were consensual.

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His fall from grace was swift. His prosecution followed two investigations published separately in October 2017 by the Times and The New Yorker magazine that propelled the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements against sexual assault in the entertainment industry and other workplaces.

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
| Credit: Seth Wenig/AP/Shutterstock

PEOPLE’s requests for comment from Weinstein’s defense attorneys Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis were not immediately returned after the sentencing.

In a statement to PEOPLE after the verdict, Weinstein’s lawyers said, “While he was not convicted on the most serious charges, we are disappointed in the verdict and will be filing an appeal. There are issues in this trial that were extremely troubling, and they prejudiced Mr. Weinstein’s ability to have his case fairly judged.”

Weinstein faces additional charges in Los Angeles, where the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on January 6 unsealed new charges there, accusing Weinstein of raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013.

He has not yet entered a plea to those allegations, which carry a separate penalty of 28 years in state prison if he is later convicted on those California charges.

In a statement to PEOPLE following Weinstein’s sentencing, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) said: “We are pleased that the court today recognized the seriousness of Harvey Weinstein’s crimes and sentenced him to significant prison time.

“We are grateful for all of the brave women who spoke out about Weinstein’s abuse. This case—and the national reckoning about the pervasiveness of sexual violence it sparked — will have a lasting legacy. We hope that survivors will feel encouraged to come forward, knowing that it can truly make a difference in bringing perpetrators to justice.”

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.