Former Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein was on Wednesday sentenced to 23 years in a New York state prison for committing felony sex crimes over a number of years, The New York Times reported. Justice James A Burke, who presided over the trial in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, New York, had the option of sentencing Weinstein, 67, to prison for a period between five years to 29 years.
A Manhattan jury of seven men and five women had on February 25 found Weinstein guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. However, the jury acquitted Weinstein in two charges of predatory sexual assault. An actor, best known for her work in The Sopranos, had made these allegations.
The indictment rested on the accusations of a former television production assistant who testified that Weinstein forced oral sex on her at his Manhattan apartment in 2006, and a former aspiring actor, who alleged he raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013.
The two women acknowledged that they continued to date Weinstein after the sexual assault, and had sex with him, which complicated the prosecution’s case. However, four women, brought in by the prosecution only to establish a pattern in Weinstein’s sexual behaviour, testified against the film producer.
All six women who gave graphic accounts of the sexual assaults Weinstein committed on them were in the courtroom when the sentence was pronounced on Wednesday. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus C Vance was present, as was Weinstein, in a wheelchair.
The allegations of sexual assault were first reported by The New York Times and The New Yorker in 2017, which led to the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. The movements sought to expose sexual harassment and assault, especially at the workplace.
Since the allegations against Weinstein became public, several people from within the American film industry and outside accused actors and directors such as Dustin Hoffman, Brett Ratner, Geoffrey Rush, Ryan Seacrest, Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman of misconduct.