Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Wednesday morning in New York City for his recent rape and criminal sexual assault convictions. Last month, the former Hollywood heavyweight was found guilty of rape in the third degree and criminal sexual acts in the first degree.
Weinstein was eligible for nearly 30 years of potential combined sentencing time, though experts had posited that he was likely to be sentenced to 10 to 15 years from Judge James Burke. Reflecting on the severity of the sentence he ultimately handed down, Burke said to Weinstein during sentencing, “This is your first conviction. It is not your first offense.”
The New York trial covered five criminal counts, including two of predatory sexual assault, one involving Miriam Haley and actress Annabella Sciorra, the other count involving Sciorra and Jessica Mann. In addition to the predatory counts, Weinstein was charged with one count of criminal sexual assault (against Haley), and two counts of rape (one in the first degree, one in the third, both involving Mann).
The February 24 verdict found him guilty of sexually assaulting Miriam Haley at his Soho apartment on July 10, 2006, while the third-degree rape charge involved his assault of aspiring actress Jessica Mann at a DoubleTree Hotel in New York on March 18, 2013.
Immediately after his conviction, an apparently ailing Weinstein was redirected from Rikers Island to the prison ward of Bellevue Hospital after complaining of chest pains during the planned ride to the New York City prison complex. After undergoing a heart procedure at Bellevue last week, the convicted rapist finally arrived at Rikers Island on March 5.
On Wednesday morning, Weinstein arrived at court in a wheelchair, where he was greeted by a phalanx of onlookers, press, and victims. In the front row sat Mann, Haley, and Sciorra, alongside Tarale Wulff, Dawn Dunning, and Lauren Young, who also testified against Weinstein. Both Mann and Haley delivered “victim impact statements” before Judge Burke announced his sentencing.
Weinstein, who did not testify at his trial, also delivered a statement before sentencing. Variety reports that while he expressed “deep remorse” to the courtroom, he also “pushed back at the #MeToo movement, implying that it had gone too far.” Weinstein told the courtroom, “I am totally confused. I think men are confused about all of this…this feeling of thousands of men and women who are losing due process, I’m worried about this country.”
“I find this sentence obscene,” said Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s attorney, after the sentence was handed down. “There are murderers who will get out of prison faster than Mr. Weinstein will. It does not speak to the evidence, nor to justice. I am overcome with anger at that number. I believe that judge caved, just as I believe that jury caved. … We were looking for fairness, and we didn’t get it.”
Despite the dozens of allegations leveled at Weinstein after a pair of damning 2017 exposes from The New York Times and The New Yorker, along with still open-criminal investigations outside of New York’s reach, the trial was limited in scope, as many of the allegations fell out of the statute of limitations. While the prosecution was able to call a number of alleged witnesses to the stand, the charges leveled against him hinged on claims made by Haley and Mann.
In the days leading up to sentencing, both the prosecution and the defense submitted their suggestions for sentencing. Last week, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi sent Judge Burke an 11-page letter that Variety reports implored the judge to consider that outlined his history of abuse and noted that through Weinstein’s “entire adult professional life, [he] has displayed a staggering lack of empathy, treating others with disdain and inhumanity.”
The outlet noted that lluzzi “did not say how many years Weinstein should face, but she did encourage Justice James Burke to use the sentencing to send a message to others.” At Wednesday’s hearing, Illuzzi asked for the maximum sentence to be handed down to Weinstein.
Two days before the sentencing was set to unfold, Weinstein’s defense team issued their own suggestions, asking for a five-year sentence (the statutory minimum for his crimes) for the convicted rapist. Variety reports that in a “seven-page sentencing memo, the defense recounted Weinstein’s charitable contributions and his support for social causes. They also argued that Weinstein has already received a harsh societal sanction.”
Weinstein still faces a sexual misconduct trial in Los Angeles involving two women, one of whom — Lauren Young — testified for the prosecution during the New York trial. Other legal ramifications remain outstanding, including other investigations around the world and a number of civil suits still in limbo.