American film producer, Harvey Weinstein, has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault that sparked a global #MeToo movement against sexual abuse.
Last month, Mr Weinstein, 67, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a former production assistant, Miriam Haley, and raping a former aspiring actress, Jessica Mann.
During the court trial on Wednesday in New York, Judge James Burke handed down a 20-year-jail term to the filmmaker for a first-degree criminal sex act for forcing oral sex on Ms Haley, in 2006.
He also imposed a three-year sentence for a third-degree rape of Ms Mann— all culminating in a 23-year-jail term.
CNN reports that both the main accusers, as well as the four other witnesses from trial – the Sopranos actor Annabella Sciorra, Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff and Lauren Young – came into court as a united group, sitting at the front row alongside Cyrus Vance, the district attorney of New York who led the prosecution.
Mr Weinstein was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair.
In a victim statement read out in court, Ms Haley said that the filmmaker “stripped her of her dignity as a human being and made her lose confidence and faith in herself”.
She added “she felt alone as she was going through the trauma with no idea other women who had similarly suffered abuse were out there”.
In her statement, the rape victim said she had finally found her voice, saying “it is time people who rape other people pay with their life and the life they took.”
Ms Mann also addressed the court and spoke of the trauma she had endured since the attack.
“I want to remind you I told Harvey, ‘no.’ I am forced to carry that experience until I die,” she said.
In a rambling address that expressed remorse, the sex offender said he had been ‘confused’ in his dealings with the women.
“I’m totally confused, men are confused about all of this issue,” he said. “I really feel remorse for this situation, I feel it deeply in my heart. We may have different truths.”
Both main accusers asked Mr Burke to impose the maximum sentence on the offender.
However, Mr Weinstein’s lawyers pleaded for leniency and a minimum possible sentence, asking the judge to consider the filmmaker’s charitable activities.
They said a longer sentence would likely mean Mr Weinstein would die in prison.
Lifetime of misdeeds
Al-Jazeera reports that more than 100 women, including famous actresses, have accused Mr Weinstein of sexual misconduct stretching back for decades, fuelling the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment.
Mr Weinstein had denied the allegations and said that any sex (he had) was consensual.
A statement by the Silence Breakers, a group of 24 women who accused Mr Weinstein of sexual assault, said no amount of jail time would repair the lives he had ruined with his nefarious acts.
“Harvey Weinstein’s legacy will always be that he’s a convicted rapist.
“He is going to jail – but no amount of jail time will repair the lives he ruined, the careers he destroyed, or the damage he has caused,” it said.
BREAKING: Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for his February conviction of criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree.
— TIME'S UP (@TIMESUPNOW) March 11, 2020
Within a few hours of the stunning sentence being delivered, Weinstein was hit with another criminal case being opened.
Guardian UK reports that the district attorney in Los Angeles has announced that it has begun extradition proceedings to bring him to face two charges relating to two additional west coast accusers.