New York, Mar 11 (efe-epa).- Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who was convicted last month of two sex-crime charges in a New York trial, was sentenced on Wednesday to 23 years in prison.
Justice James Burke handed down the sentence after weighing the arguments of prosecutors and Weinstein’s defense team.
Three weeks ago, a jury in New York State Supreme Court found Weinstein guilty of first-degree criminal sexual act – punishable by between five and 25 years in prison – based on the testimony of Miriam Haley, a television and film production assistant who accused the defendant of forcibly performing oral sex on her at his Manhattan apartment in 2006.
Weinstein also was convicted of third-degree rape, which carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison, based on accusations leveled by Jessica Mann, a former actress who said Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013.
Burke sentenced Weinstein to 20 years in prison for the criminal sex act conviction and to three years behind bars for third-degree rape.
His defense attorneys have said they will appeal those convictions.
The producer of Hollywood blockbusters such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love,” who denies all accusations of non-consensual sex, also has been charged in Los Angeles with rape and sexual assault based on the allegations of two women.
The allegations against Weinstein came to light in New York Times and New Yorker articles published in late 2017, with famed actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Asia Argento leveling accusations of sexual misconduct – including sexual assault – against the former Hollywood mogul.
The Weinstein scandal gave rise to the #MeToo movement, which encourages sexual assault victims to come forward.
In the New York trial, the testimony of Haley and Mann formed the basis for the various charges against Weinstein.
But other accusers, including “The Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra, also testified about alleged sex crimes they suffered at the hands of Weinstein. They took the stand during the trial in an attempt by prosecutors to show a pattern of abuse.
While convicting Weinstein of two of the five charges, the jury acquitted him of first degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault (for which he could have been sentenced to life in prison).
Defense attorneys for the former Hollywood producer had asked Burke to sentence Weinstein to the fewest possible number of years behind bars.
They said he had already paid a heavy price from the collapse of his reputation, his career and his marriage and was experiencing serious health issues, including diabetes, that would make a lengthy prison term a “de facto life sentence.”
In their filing late Monday, they stressed that Weinstein had no prior criminal history and also sought once again to cast doubt on the main accusers’ testimony, noting that Haley and Mann “continued consensual relationships with Mr. Weinstein after the alleged assaults and contacted him for jobs, tickets and professional advice.”
For their part, prosecutors had called on the judge to hand down a sentence that “reflects the seriousness of the defendant’s offenses” and punishes him for “his total lack of remorse for the harm he has done.”
In their pre-sentencing letter filed last Friday, they argued that the former producer had a long history of sexual aggression and harassment dating back to 1978 and said those actions were part of a larger pattern of leveraging his power over people in the workplace and treating them with “disdain and inhumanity. EFE-EPA