NEW YORK – FEB 21, 2020: Harvey Weinstein leaves court during jury deliberation for his trial on February 21, 2020, in New York. (Shutterstock)
By Molly Crane-Newman, Noah Goldberg and Larry McShane, NY Daily News
Convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years behind bars Wednesday by a Manhattan judge who ignored his rambling call for leniency, the final act in the #MeToo prosecution against the predatory Oscar-winning producer.
The 67-year-old defendant, accused of varying degrees of sexual misconduct by dozens of women in the last three years, was whacked with a 20-year term for his criminal sex act conviction and three more years for rape, with Judge James Burke ordering the sentences to run consecutively. Weinstein had faced a 29-year maximum sentence.
“I will say that although this is a first conviction, it is not a first offense,” said Burke, who also ordered Weinstein to register as a sex offender. The disgraced Hollywood big shot still faces another trial on similar allegations in Los Angeles.
The defense immediately announced plans to appeal the conviction based on numerous issues, including jury selection and alleged violations during pre-trial discovery.
Weinstein, speaking in Manhattan Supreme Court, delivered his first apology for his vile behavior without making any admission of guilt — and strangely referenced his relationships with sexual crime victims Mimi Haley and Jessica Mann as the two sat only a few feet away in the courtroom.
“I can’t stop looking at Jessica and Mimi and hoping something maybe from our old relationship could emerge,” he said in a long, rambling statement. “I think men are confused by all these issues … There’s so many people, thousands of people, who would say great things about me.”
Weinstein accuser Lauren Young wept in the courtroom as Weinstein continued to babble. At one point he noted how he “went to extraordinary lengths to hide my extramarital affairs” from his two wives.
The defense had asked for the minimum of five years, and noted the average jail term for the crimes involved was 8½ years in New York state.
“We thank the court for imposing a sentence that puts sexual predators and abusive partners in all segments of society on notice,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. “We thank the survivors for their remarkable statements today and indescribable courage over the last two years.”
All six women who testified at trial against Weinstein sat together in the first row of the courtroom, entering before the hearing with their heads held high in a show of solidarity. Emmy-nominated actress Annabella Sciorra sat between prosecutor Vance and Weinstein victim Haley, while Mann, Young, Dawn Dunning and Tarale Wulff joined them. Actress Rosie Perez, who also took the stand, was seated one row behind the brave group.
“I had no reason to believe he would force sexual violence upon me, but that’s exactly what he did,” Haley testified in her victim impact statement before a jam-packed courtroom Wednesday. “It scarred me deeply. He not only stripped me of my dignity as a human being and as a woman … (he) diminished my confidence and faith in myself.”
Haley took the stand on Jan. 27 and explicitly described how Weinstein sexually assaulted her in his SoHo loft in 2006 and pressured her into unwanted sex two weeks later in a Tribeca hotel room. Mann testified four days later that Weinstein had raped her in a Manhattan hotel on March 18, 2013, and again later that year in a Beverly Hills hotel room. An emotional Mann followed Haley to deliver her statement, recounting her rape in agonizing detail and recalling the day she sat screaming in a courthouse witness room during the trial.
“Those were the screams that wanted to come out when Harvey Weinstein was raping me,” she said. “Those were the screams of a terrified young woman reliving the experience. … Today I have no shame. I have found my voice, and together we have a future vision where monsters no longer hide in our closets.”
Weinstein, wearing a navy blue suit, arrived at the courtroom in a wheelchair from Rikers Island. The paunchy producer looked thinner and his hair appeared longer than during his last appearance. There were no signs of family or friends to support him.
Defense attorney Donna Rotunno unleashed a scorched-earth attack on the prosecution, the judge and the entire month-long trial after the sentencing.
“Mr. Weinstein really never had a fair shake from day one,” she said outside the courthouse. “And I’m not here to say that he’s a victim, and I’m not here to say ‘poor Harvey.’ But what I am here to say is that we were looking for fairness, and we didn’t get it … Harvey feels terrible. Of course he does.”
As for the women who testified against Weinstein, Rotunno questioned their accounts of non-consensual sex with Weinstein.
“We don’t know what happened in those rooms,” she said. “But what we do know is all the circumstances that surrounded it. And I will never be able to reconcile that all of the circumstances that surrounded it are what normal, regular rape victims do.”