Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for sex crimes including rape.
Judge James Burke handed down the sentence to the former Hollywood heavyweight on Wednesday morning, after the women he is convicted of abusing gave emotional statements to the courtroom.
Miriam Haley, who alleged that Weinstein forced oral sex on her while she worked a production assistant in 2006, told the court that he “stripped me of my dignity as a human being” and that she is “relieved there are women who are safer because he is not out there”.
Weinstein faced a minimum of five years in prison after being convicted of criminal sexual assault last month in a decision that was viewed as a landmark legal test of the #MeToo movement — which was ignited three years ago by allegations against the disgraced movie producer.
Weinstein was brought by wheelchair into the courtroom, where he faced the six women who had testified against him, who were sitting together in the front row. The 67-year old has been detained at New York’s Rikers Island jail since undergoing heart surgery last week.
Judge Burke revoked bail after the jury verdict at trial and Weinstein has been in custody pending his sentencing. Weinstein denied the charges and his lawyers have indicated they will mount an appeal.
The high-profile case encompassed five charges against Weinstein based on two alleged incidents: raping Jessica Mann, an aspiring actress, in 2013 and forcing oral sex on Ms Haley, a production assistant, in 2006. After watching weeks of dramatic testimony by women alleging that Weinstein preyed upon them, the jury last month determined that he was guilty of two of the five felony charges.
They found him guilty of a first-degree criminal sexual act, which rested upon the testimony of Ms Haley, and third-degree rape charges in connection with the allegations from Ms Mann. The jury acquitted Weinstein of the most serious charges against him, predatory sexual assault, which carried a sentence of up to life in prison.
Weinstein’s lawyers argued that, at his age, a sentence longer than the minimum five years would likely be a “de facto life sentence”. In a letter submitted to Judge Burke this week, his defence team begged for mercy, claiming that Weinstein has already suffered a “historic” fall from grace and “cannot walk outside without being heckled”.
The prosecutors asked Judge Burke to consider dozens of other “bad acts” Weinstein was accused of carrying out over the span of four decades, requesting the maximum sentence, or near the maximum, of 29 years in prison.
The criminal sexual act felony carries a sentence of up to 25 years in jail, while third-degree rape carries a sentence of up to 4 years in jail.