Harvey Weinstein,67 was sentenced to 23 years in prison Wednesday for rape and sexual assault.
Weinstein, who has been accused of violating several women, was convicted last month of raping an aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on former TV and film production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006.
He faced a maximum of 29 years in prison.
Both women confronting Weinstein again in court Wednesday after their testimony helped seal his conviction at the landmark #MeToo trial.
“It takes a very special kind of evil to exploit connections to leverage rape,” said the 2013 rape accuser.
“Rape is not just one moment of penetration. It is forever,” added the woman, who recalled a moment during the trial when she left the witness stand in tears and then could be heard screaming from an adjacent room.
“The day my screams were heard from the witness room was the day my voice came back to its full power,” she said.
The Associated Press has a policy of not naming people who have been sexually assaulted without their consent. It is withholding the rape accuser’s name because it is not clear whether she wishes to be identified.
Weinstein, who has maintained that any sexual activity was consensual, showed no visible reaction to the sentence.
Beforehand, he broke his courtroom silence with a rambling plea for mercy in which he said his “empathy has grown” since his downfall.
He told the court he felt “remorse for this situation” but said he was perplexed by the case and the #MeToo climate in which it unfolded. “Thousands of men are losing due process. I’m worried about this country,” he said, arguing that men are being accused of “things that none of us understood.”
“I’m totally confused. I think men are confused about these issues,” he said in a calm but creaking voice, adding that he had fond memories of his accusers.
Looking back during the trial at emails they exchanged, he said, he thought they had a good friendship: “I had wonderful times with these people.”
The executive behind such Oscar-winning films as “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction” became Exhibit A for the #MeToo movement after years of whispers about his alleged behavior burst into public view in The New York Times and The New Yorker in 2017.
The takedown energized the #MeToo campaign of speaking up about sexual assault and holding perpetrators accountable.
One of Weinstein’s lawyers, Donna Rotunno, told the court he faced an uphill fight from the start of the trial, with media coverage of his allegations and the #MeToo movement making it impossible for him to get a truly fair shake.
“How can we deny the fact that what happened before we walked in here had an impact?” Rotunno asked.
Weinstein’s lawyers pleaded for leniency because of his age and frail health, and prosecutors, who said the man once celebrated as a titan of Hollywood deserved a harsh sentence that would account for allegations of wrongdoing dating back decades.
Weinstein was sentenced a week shy of his 68th birthday, and his lawyers argued that a lengthy prison term would, in effect, be a life sentence.
They sought a five-year sentence while
Weinstein used a walker throughout the trial and arrived at the courthouse Wednesday in wheelchair because of back problems from a car crash last summer.
He has a condition that requires shots in his eyes and last week had a stent placed to unblock an artery.
The agency that runs New York’s state prisons said every inmate is evaluated to determine which facility meets his or her security, medical, mental health and other needs.
The New York case was the first criminal matter to arise from accusations of more than 90 women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek and Uma Thurman.
Weinstein was convicted on two counts: criminal sex act for the 2006 assault on the production assistant and rape in the third degree for a 2013 attack on another woman.
He was acquitted of the more serious charges against him of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault.
Now that Weinstein has been sentenced, his lawyers can move forward with a promised appeal.
His legal team was upset with Burke’s handling of the case, from his inclusion of a juror who’d written a novel involving predatory older men to his rulings on evidence, witnesses and objections.
Just as jury selection was about to get under way in January, Weinstein was charged in California with raping a woman at a Los Angeles hotel on Feb. 18, 2013, after pushing his way inside her room, and sexually assaulting a woman in a Beverly Hills hotel suite the next night.
Weinstein could get up to 28 years in prison on charges of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery in the California case. Authorities have not said when he would go there to face those charges.