Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced Hollywood movie mogul who was accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women, was sentenced to 16 years in a California prison on his latest rape conviction on Thursday.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench rejected Weinstein’s request for a new trial. A jury found the 70-year-old former movie producer guilty of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and sexual penetration by a foreign object.
The allegations were made by an unidentified actress who told the court that Weinstein’s attack destroyed her dreams of an exciting future. “I soon became invisible to myself and to the world. I lost my identity. I was heartbroken, empty and alone.”
Weinstein, who appeared in court in a wheelchair and has claimed to have heart ailments and diabetes, told the judge that the case against him was a “setup” and that he didn’t even know the woman. “Please don’t sentence me to life in prison. I don’t deserve it.”
Prosecutors were able to win convictions against Weinstein on allegations by only one of the five women whose claims were originally included in the case. The jury found him not guilty of sexual battery against a second accuser and was unable to reach verdicts on allegations by two other women. Charges stemming from allegations by the fifth woman were dismissed during the trial.
Weinstein is already serving a 23-year prison sentence on a 2020 rape conviction against him in New York. The new sentence will run consecutively, rather than concurrently, with his earlier punishment, meaning that he would face a 16-year term in California when and if he serves out his time or is paroled in New York.
The cascade of allegations against Weinstein sparked the #MeToo movement in 2017. His defense lawyers have argued that women willingly engaged in “transactional sex” with the then-producer because he was one of the most influential figures in the movie industry.
“There are many out there who will celebrate this action, but it is a sad day for justice and fairness, and I hope no one who is pleased with this is ever caught on the wrong side of cancel culture while hopelessly and voicelessly proclaiming innocence,” defense lawyer Juda Engelmayer said of Thursday’s sentencing.