What did convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein, 67, have to say for himself at the end of his sentencing on Wednesday? He asserted he was remorseful after hearing the women testify at his trial. And although he referenced that his story fueled the #MeToo movement, he argued that men were losing due process and said he was worried about the country.
The defendant maintained that he was a charitable person, that he knew how to pass success forward, and that even Mimi Haleyi and Jessica Mann would say he was generous.
Both women spoke before him at his sentencing, but they were emphatic about the long-term damage he did to them. In an impact statement, former actress Mann rhetorically asked the court why the defendant’s crime against her was considered less severe than an drug offense.
“How am I not worth more than cocaine?” she said at the sentencing, before the judge handed down a 23-year prison sentence.
Weinstein was found guilty last month of rape in the third-degree against Mann. That’s a class E felony in New York state, punishable by up to four years. By comparison, possessing at least 500 milligrams of cocaine is a class D felony punishable by up to seven years.
Mann said she experienced rape paralysis, and that she is forced to carry her experience until she dies.
“There are good days and bad days and I hide it as best as I can,” she said.
Weinstein was also found guilty last month of criminal sexual act in the first-degree against former production assistant Haleyi. She described her experience as a “rape” because the defendant used physical force. She said she felt drained and insecure, and that she lost her job and income from what happened. Halegyi said she eventually buried what happened and minimized it because she didn’t want to be a victim, or perceived as one.
“He crushed part of my spirit,” she said.
Ultimately, Judge James Burke sentenced Weinstein to 20 years for that charge, three years for the Mann charge, and five years of post-release supervision.
The minimum for the criminal sexual act was five years, and that’s what the defense asked for. Defense lawyer Donna Rotunno was sure to bring up that jurors didn’t convict on the more serious charges. (This included predatory sexual assault, a class A-II with a possible life sentence.) At court, she argued that a fair trial wasn’t a possibility because of all the media coverage about the case. None of the potential jurors said they didn’t know of the defendant. That’s unusual, she said. Rotunno also said that some others who wanted to reach out to him were afraid to so, and even witnesses at trial had to be subpoenaed.
As mitigating factors, she mentioned the defendant’s age (he turns 68 on March 19), health issues, and relationship with his family. This echoed the statement from co-counsel Arthur L. Aidala. This attorney described a 2018 case in which another defendant allegedly drugged and raped an employee. Burke sentenced this person to 7.5 years, even though he was 20 years younger than Weinstein, had no “laundry list” of health problems, no history of charity, or the like.
“You sentenced him to less than state average,” said Aidala.
Dozens of women have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, and four other alleged victims testified against him at trial, but only the Mann and Haleyi allegations were adjudicated. Nonetheless, the state brought up prior allegations in a letter. In court, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said the defendant got drunk on power, and was unchecked for decades. Weinstein’s actions spoke to a lack of empathy, were selfish, and were rooted in criminality, she said. The prosecutor said there were many more abuse survivors.
“He could take what he wanted knowing there was little anyone could do about it,” she said.
Weinstein co-counsel Damon Cheronis said that allegations in the letter dated back to 1978, and were not vetted by the defense or the court. A number of allegations were criminal and dragged up anger issues or temper tantrums, he said. He argued that it would be a problem to base the sentence on the state’s letter without corroborating evidence to make it reliable.
Weinstein’s team previously signaled that they will appeal the conviction.
The defendant didn’t testify at the trial, but he did speak at sentencing. His statement echoed the theme already established by his defense and PR team: That he is a flawed person, but innocent of charges. As we discussed above, the defendant even referenced how the numerous allegations against him fueled the #MeToo movement. He argued that men are “confused” and were losing due process. Weinstein said he was worried about this country.
He referenced having extramarital affairs, and that he went to great lengths to hide them. The defendant was long known as a giant in Hollywood, but he denied that he had the power to “blackball” people.
— Aaron Keller (@AKellerLawCrime) March 11, 2020
There remains a pending criminal case in Los Angeles, California for similar charges.
Jesse Weber contributed to this report.
[Image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images]