Hollywood producer Weinstein sentenced to 23 years on sexual assault charges
Judge James Burke handed down the harsh sentence to the 68-year-old former Miramax producer on Wednesday, siding with prosecutors’ call for a stiff punishment for the erstwhile Hollywood titan. While scores of women have accused Weinstein of sex crimes, he was convicted last month specifically of third degree rape and first degree sexual assault charges against former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and aspiring actress Jessica Mann. Both were in court to watch the sentencing.Also on rt.com Good riddance to Harvey Weinstein, a repugnant pig who brutalized both women and cinema
Weinstein’s defense had sought leniency, begging the judge to apply the minimum sentence of five years given the producer’s age and insisting he was in poor health. He arrived in court in a wheelchair on Wednesday after using a walker throughout trial proceedings. Since his conviction, Weinstein has reportedly split his time between the Rikers Island jail infirmary and a hospital, where he had stent surgery last week.
The once-mighty figure, who became the main villain of the #MeToo movement after first a trickle and then a flood of women went public with their accusations in 2017, is still facing multiple counts of sexual assault in Los Angeles.
While Weinstein escaped the maximum sentence of 29 years and was not found guilty of the two most serious charges against him, even the lesser sentence raises the possibility he will spend the rest of his life behind bars, especially if he is found guilty of any of the four counts of sexual assault he is facing in Los Angeles. Those charges were announced the same day as his trial began in New York and are the first filed by a task force LA County formed specifically to investigate the #MeToo-related allegations that have rocked the entertainment industry.Also on rt.com Legendary opera star Placido Domingo accepts ‘full responsibility’ for harassment allegations, after MeToo pressure mounts
Weinstein had insisted all sexual activity with his accusers was consensual, and his defense highlighted friendly communication from his accusers after the alleged assaults as proof that the women had understood they were undertaking a transactional activity. The superstar producer’s lascivious behavior was not exactly a secret in Hollywood, where it was even woven into comedians' routines, rendering the industry’s belated pearl-clutching at the horrors of the “casting couch” less than believable. However, prosecution witness Tarale Wulff, who testified that Weinstein had raped her in 2005, channeled the energy of the #MeToo movement in a statement on Tuesday, declaring she hoped the sentence “sends a clear message that times have changed.”
Weinstein did not visibly react to the sentence, according to witnesses, though he personally pleaded for mercy before it was handed down. Claiming he felt “remorse for this situation,” he insisted his "empathy had grown" since his downfall even as he recalled the "wonderful times" he thought he had had with his accusers. "Thousands of men are losing due process” in cases like his own, he warned, adding that "I think men are confused about these issues."
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