In a landmark ruling, the previously-powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to twenty-three years in prison for a series of incidents involving his treatment of women over several decades. Though he was a guiding hand in hundreds of the most top-rated movies over that time, he had a growing/descending reputation of questionable business-practices and his attitude and behaviour to women.
Weinstein’s trial last month saw him found guilty on several abuse charges (though acquitted on two charges of predatory sexual assault: those would have carried potential life sentences, which the jury felt could not be fully proven ‘beyond reasonable doubt‘).
Before sentencing Weinstein made a statement that he was sorry for some of the things had done but offered a defense that men were now ‘confused’ in the changing landscape and that he himself was ultimately a victim of that confusion. His defense team also pointed to charitable donations and stars’ previous statements of how much he had helped their careers. However none of the claims made any impact in the courtroom and two rows of people who had accused him (including Jessica Mann, Miriam “Mimi” Haley, Annabella Sciorra, Tarale Wulff, Lauren Young and Dawn Dunning) clearly had no sympathy for the situation in which he found himself. Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi counterbalanced the appeal from the defense citing a long list of statements from other actors and industry names that painted a far less favourable and, indeed, damning portrait of Weinstein. After devastating impact statements from victims such as Haley and Jessica Mann, New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke dismissed defense requests for the minimum five year sentence before announcing the 23 year total. Other women have made similar complaints but were not part of the actual trial and put out their own statements later.
Weinstein may not be the only culpable name involved in abuse of power, physical or otherwise, but he’s certainly been one of the most high profile to date (There have been other notable complaints and allegations involving industry faces such as Kevin Spacey and Bey Logan and a wave of figures accused of improper conduct in the film and tv industry)
Weinstein’s sentence is accumulative: twenty years in prison for Weinstein’s conviction on first-degree sexual assault and an additional three years for his conviction of third-degree rape with an order for them to be served consecutively. It means that there is a strong chance that Weinstein will spend the rest of his life in jail.