By Dorothy Cummings McLean
Convicted rapist and former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison.
Weinstein, 67, was found guilty of rape and sexual assault by a jury of seven men and five women on February 24. His lawyers had sought a lighter sentence, saying that even the minimum sentence of five years might be a “life sentence” for him.
However, prosecutors argued that Weinstein would have continued “hurting more lives” had women not come forward to expose his crimes. Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon described the former producer as a “sex addict and an anger addict” who “got drunk on power.”
Weinstein appeared at his sentencing hearing in a wheelchair. Although he did not speak at his trial, he used the hearing as an opportunity to say that he had good memories of the women who accused him and that he was confused by their complaints.
“I’m not going to say these aren’t great people,” he said of the victims.
“I had wonderful times with these people. I’m just genuinely confused. Men are confused about this issue.”
A group of 24 people, including famous actresses, who have accused Weinstein, issued a statement after the hearing. Calling themselves “the Silence Breakers”, they said: “Harvey Weinstein’s legacy will always be that he’s a convicted rapist.”
“He is going to jail – but no amount of jail time will repair the lives he ruined, the careers he destroyed, or the damage he has caused,” they continued.
“The Silence Breaker community was founded on solidarity, support, and compassion. The New York trial has ended, but the Silence Breakers will persist in our crusade for cultural change, justice and to have our voices heard.”
Weinstein still awaits trial for additional sexual assault and rape charges in California.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the crucial factors in Weinstein’s New York trial were the testimony of former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haleyi, who accused Weinstein of criminal sexual assault, and of “aspiring actress,” Jessica Mann, who accused him of rape in the third degree.
Weinstein was acquitted of the more serious charges, which included predatory sexual assault, and thus has avoided a life sentence. However, he still faces four charges in Los Angeles County.
The New York native’s hometown trial began on January 6 and included the testimony of six women who swore that the famous producer had sexually assaulted them. Besides Haleyi and Mann, they included actress Annabella Sciorra, who accused Weinstein of rape. The allegations concerned incidents that happened over a thirty-year period.
A total of 28 witnesses gave testimony in the New York trial.
According to the New York Post, Illuzzi-Orbon and co-counsel Meghan Hast argued that Weinstein preyed on vulnerable, naive women who tried to develop professional relationships with him in the hope of furthering their careers.
Weinstein’s alleged crimes were first exposed in the press by journalists for the New York Times on October 5, 2017. He was eventually fired from his own company and banished from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Besides his career as an Oscar-winning producer, Weinstein was known for his political activity on behalf of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He was working on a documentary about Clinton until the sexual assault allegations came to light.
He pledged a $100,000 donation to abortion giant Planned Parenthood in May 2017. The abortion company denies that Weinstein ever fulfilled that pledge.