Following a tense trial, Weinstein was found guilty of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sex act on February 24, 2020. Former actress Jesica Mann and former production assistant Miriam Haleyi appeared in court to deliver their victim impact statements during the sentencing hearing today.
“He violated my trust, my body, and my basic right to reject his sexual advances,” Haleyi told the court.
“Rape is not just one moment of penetration. It is forever,” Mann said.
Haleyi and Mann were joined in the courtroom by Dawn Dunning, Anabella Sciorra, Tarale Wulff, and Lauren Young. All four of whom testified against the former movie mogul during the trial. While the four were unable to give victim statements during sentencing due to New York law, Dunning, Wulff, and Young all released victim statements online prior to the hearing. Both Mann and Haleyi used their statements to demand the maximum sentence for his crimes.
After avoiding the stand during his February trial, Weinstein read a prepared statement at the sentencing hearing, saying “I feel remorse for this situation. I feel it deep in my heart. I’m really trying to be a better person.” One of his defense attorneys, Arthur Aidala argued against a maximum sentence, claiming that Weinstein has no criminal history, is almost 70, and that a longer sentence would be a “death penalty.” New York State officially prohibited the use of capital punishment in 2007, though the state stopped all executions in 1984.
Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein’s other defence lawyers, claimed that a prison sentence could make it difficult for him to receive care for his “multitude of medical issues” and family history of heart disease. “No matter what happens here today, judge, no one really wins,” because even if he only received the minimum sentences for both crimes, “there’s a good chance that Mr. Weinstein won’t live to see the end of that sentence, which is very sad.”
Judge James Burke sentenced Weinstein to three years in prison for rape in the third degree with five years post-release supervision, and 20 years in prison for a criminal sexual act in the first degree, with an additional five years post-release supervision.
The former exec faced a maximum of 29 years in prison for both charges. The third-degree rape charge came with a maximum sentence of 4 years in New York state, while the first-degree criminal sex act charge could lead to anywhere from 5 to 25 years. Weinstein’s final sentencing of 23 years is a significant milestone for the #MeToo movement which started in the fall of 2017 after several reports emerged alleging widespread sexual misconduct by Weinstein himself.