Harvey Weinstein, the once-mighty Hollywood film producer, has been sentenced to 23 years in prison by a judge in New York for rape and sexual assault.
The decision concludes his meteoric downfall and represents a milestone for his victims and the wider #MeToo movement, which began when the movie mogul’s chronic abuse was made public in late 2017.
The six accusers who had testified against Weinstein, 67, at his trial - which concluded with a guilty verdict on February 24 - sat beside each other in the front row of the New York court as the sentence was handed down.
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“He violated my trust and my body and my personal right to deny sexual advances,” said Miriam Haley, one of Weinstein’s victims, reading a statement in court, who went on to describe how the abuse had a crushing long-term effect on her spirit.
Weinstein maintained that he was innocent and that his sexual exploits had been consensual. “Thousands of men are losing due process,” he said. “I’m worried about this country.”
He said that he had had “wonderful times” with his accusers and was “genuinely confused” about why they had turned against him.
But Justice James Burke, who presided over the trial in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, delivered a more severe sentence than many had been expecting - 23 years, compared with a maximum of 29.
Weinstein’s lawyers had asked for leniency, citing the brutal social and professional repercussions - exacerbated in the era of social media - and his poor health.
“After sentencing, Weinstein will pass into the bowels of the New York state department of corrections,” says The Guardian. “He will be taken to a reception center in Fishkill, New York, for ‘processing’, and then transported to a prison in upstate New York.”
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