Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years jail – here is everything you need to know

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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The trial of the disgraced studio mogul is over and he was found guilty of third degree rape and first degree criminal sexual act. Today, Harvey Weinstein was sentenced for his crimes. 

Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison on 11 March 2020, as per The Hollywood Reporter. The maximum sentence for the crimes of first degree criminal sexual act and third degree rape is 29 years jail. 

The decision, announced by Justice James Burke who presided over the disgraced studio mogul’s trial, will also require Weinstein to register as a sex offender. He will serve his term in a New York jail. 

During the sentencing hearing, several of Weinstein’s victims read out emotional statements to the court. 

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“He violated my trust, my body, and my basic right to reject my sexual advances. When he attacked me that evening, it scarred me emotionally and physically. It diminished my confidence and faith in people and my confidence and faith in myself,” victim Miriam Haleyi said in her statement, as reported by The Daily Beast. 

“The day my uncontrollable screams were heard in the courtroom was the day my full voice went back into my power,” Jessica Mann, another victim, told the court. “Those were the screams that wanted to come out when Harvey Weinstein raped me.”

“I have found my voice and hope for a future where monsters no longer hide in our closet,” she concluded. 

Women protest outside the Harvey Weinstein trial.

At the sentencing hearing, Weinstein’s team announced that they were intending to appeal the decision. 

Here is everything you need to know about Weinstein’s trial, the guilty verdict, and sentencing. 

What do we know about Weinstein’s sentencing? 

REPORTED ON 11 MARCH: Today, on 11 March 2020, Justice James Burke is set to deliver sentencing in the trial against Weinstein.

The disgraced studio mogul was found guilty on 24 February of third degree rape against one woman and first degree criminal sexual act, in which he forced oral sex upon another woman. He was found not guilty of further accusations of first degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault. 

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If the jury, which deliberated for 26 hours on the verdict, had found Weinstein guilty of all charges, he would have faced life in prison. As it stands, however, Weinstein will still face jail time. First degree criminal sexual act carries a minimum of five years and a maximum of 25 years prison time. It will be up to Justice Burke to decide just how long Weinstein will be going to prison.

So what are the factors in sentencing? And what is the most likely outcome? 

How much jail time is Weinstein facing?

Weinstein is facing a minimum of five years in jail, according to recommended sentencing. First degree criminal sexual act, of which he was found guilty, carries between five and 25 years of jail time. Third degree rape, of which he was also found guilty, does not have a recommended sentence. Justice Burke is within his right to decide what the correct jail sentence is in this instance.

Harvey Weinstein was found guilty and has been sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Weinstein’s lawyers have asked that he receive the minimum possible sentencing. “Mr Weinstein was constantly maligned by the media, having long since been convicted in the court of public opinion,” his legal team wrote in documents submitted to the court. “His fall from grace has been historic, perhaps unmatched in the age of social media.” 

Furthermore, they suggested that any sentence longer than five years in jail would be a “defacto life sentence”, on account of Weinstein’s ill health. (For two weeks after his guilty verdict, Weinstein was in Bellevue Hospital suffering from chest pains. Since 8 March, however, Weinstein has been awaiting his sentencing in Rikers Island prison.)

“The grave reality is that Mr Weinstein may not even outlive that term,” his lawyers wrote.

What jail sentence is Weinstein likely to receive?

Weinstein is definitely going to receive a jail sentence, according to CNN. The only question is how long will it be?

The prosecutors have not recommended a specific sentencing, focusing instead on highlighting the volume of accusations against Weinstein and the long period of time that they span. 

Harvey Weinstein leaving court

Weinstein arriving at court during his New York trial.

Given this “lifetime of abuse”, the prosecutors said, they asked the court to “impose a sentence that reflects the seriousness of defendant’s offenses, his total lack of remorse for the harm he has caused, and the need to deter him and others from engaging in further criminal conduct.”

Vulture noted that it is “impossible to predict” Weinstein’s sentencing, especially given the fact that there is no direct legal comparison. Some recent cases involving similar convictions, whether for first degree criminal sexual acts and/or third degree rape, resulted in anywhere between 10 and 20 years of jail time.

What was the result of Weinstein’s trial? 

REPORTED ON 24 FEBRUARY: Two years after the allegations against Harvey Weinstein sent shockwaves through Hollywood and triggered a global #MeToo movement, the disgraced movie mogul has been found guilty of two charges, including third-degree rape, by a New York jury.

After five days of deliberations, the jury of five women and seven men found the fallen film producer guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first degree for forcing oral sex upon the former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006; and guilty of rape in the third degree of Jessica Mann in a New York hotel in 2013, The Guardian reported.

However, the jury acquitted Weinstein of three further charges, including the two top charges against him of predatory sexual assault, which carried a possible life sentence. 

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How long did the jury’s deliberations take?

REPORTED ON 24 FEBRUARY: The jury that decided the fate of disgraced movie mogul Weinstein took 26 hours over five days to reach their verdict at the New York supreme court in Manhattan. 

During this time, they made a series of requests to the judge. According to The Guardian, on the second day of their deliberations, the five female and seven male jurors asked to be reread the testimony of Miriam Haley. The former Project Runway assistant producer, one of the rape trial’s two main accusers, alleges that Weinstein sexually assaulted her on two separate occasions in 2006. The jurors also asked to see emails sent between Weinstein and Haley, as well as any sent between Weinstein and any third party that related to Haley. In addition, the jurors requested to know the legal definitions of terms, including ‘consent’ and ‘forcible compulsion’. They also wanted to see a blueprint of Weinstein’s SoHo apartment, where Haley claimed Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her.

Weinstein trial: The jurors asked to be reread the testimony of Miriam Haley

On the second day of deliberations, the jurors asked to be reread the testimony of Rosie Perez, who told them that Annabelle Sciorra – who testified that Weinstein raped her in 1993 as a “prior bad acts” witness – had told Perez about the alleged rape, though had not initially named Weinstein as her attacker. The jurors also wanted to see all written and digital communications mentioning Sciorra.

The jury was given five criminal charges to consider. Haley’s testimony related to the first two, including the most serious charge of predatory sexual assault in the first degree. 

Why was Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer accused of jury tampering?

Donna Rotunno, lawyer for Harvey Weinstein, has been accused of jury tampering by the prosecution.

AS REPORTED ON 17 MARCH: As jurors continue to deliberate over the verdict in the Harvey Weinstein case, his lawyer, Donna Rotunno, has been ordered by the judge not to speak to any news media until a decision has been reached after she penned an article to jurors over the weekend. 

The op-ed, which appeared in Newsweek magazine, implored jurors “to do what they know is right”. “The facts are the facts,” she wrote in the 284-word story. “Harvey Weinstein is innocent. His fate hangs in the balance, and the world is watching.”

Joan Illuzzi, the lead prosecutor in Weinstein’s case, deemed Rotunno’s behaviour to be “100 percent inappropriate” and tantamount to jury tampering. “It cannot be allowed in this courtroom or any courtroom in this country,” she said in court, as per The New York Times.

Rotunno defended the article, saying that she was attempting to balance the prosecution’s narrative that Weinstein is a predator. She said, “It is one small piece of a large media attack on Mr Weinstein every single day and for the D.A.’s office to act like they don’t talk to the media just because their name isn’t in the article is ridiculous. I did not say anything beyond the bounds of what our system should do.”

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As in many high-profile cases, jurors have been reminded daily not to follow any news coverage of the case. However, before giving jurors their final instructions, Justice James M Burke warned the defense team it was “ordered to refrain from communicating with the press until there is a verdict in the case”. He added, “I would caution you about the tentacles of your public relations juggernaut.”

This is not the first time Rotunno’s public comments have been called into question by the prosecution since the trial began on 6 January. The prosecution previously requested a gag order after two earlier incidents: the first, when Rotunno criticised Weinstein’s accusers in interviews with reporters; the second, after Rotunno participated in an interview on a The New York Times podcast. In that interview, Rotunno said that she had never been sexually assaulted “because I would never put myself in that position” and, prosecutors alleged, she also painted the accusers out to be liars who were seeking fame. She was warned then by the judge not to talk about witnesses.

The jury continues to deliberate over its verdict. 

What were the closing remarks in the Harvey Weinstein trial? 

Harvey Weinstein leaving court

Weinstein arriving at court during his New York trial.

With the Weinstein trial almost over, his lawyer Donna Rotunno delivered her closing remarks. In recent weeks, Rotunno has come under fire for giving an interview in which she stated that she had never been assaulted because she would “never put myself in that position”. Her victim-blaming remarks led to the creation of the hashtag #WhereIPutMyself on Twitter, with assault victims sharing their powerful stories. 

Rotunno’s closing remarks at the trial employed more of this victim-blaming rhetoric, arguing that by placing the onus of consent onto Weinstein, all the agency was stripped from his accusers. The prosecutor’s case, she said, “stripp[ed] adult women of common sense, autonomy and responsibility”. 

She continued: “The irony is that the ADAs [assistant district attorneys] in this case are the producers, and they are writing the script in this story…In their universe, women are not responsible for the parties they attend, the men they flirt with, the choices they make to further their careers, the hotel room invitations, and the plane tickets they accept.”

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Rotunno’s closing remarks lasted for approximately five hours, according to New York Magazine. Alongside her argument that Weinstein’s alleged victims had “choices” in their assaults, she also slammed the prosecutors for showing naked photographs of Weinstein during the case.

“In the alternative universe that the prosecutors have created for you, Harvey Weinstein is a monster,” she said. “He is unattractive. He’s overweight. They showed you naked photographs of him. Ask yourself, why? To do nothing more than shame him… no reason whatsoever for those photographs, not one. No issue of identification.”

She concluded: “Tiger Woods is a sex addict. You don’t see him in a criminal courtroom. Being a sex addict and being a rapist are two different things.”

What else has happened in Harvey Weinstein’s trial so far?

AS REPORTED ON 31 JANUARY 2020: The court has now heard from four of the six women slated to testify against Weinstein – you can read there testimonies here.

Today, the jury heard how Weinstein employed a private detective firm to foil the New York Times article that exposed the sexual misconduct allegations against him and sparked the global #Metoo movementThe Guardian reports. 

While the jury was not told of the details of the contract between Weinstein and Israeli private investigation firm Black Cube, key details were later revealed in legal arguments, out of the earshot of jurors, in court.

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These details included the fact that the firm was employed to “provide intelligence which will help the client’s efforts to completely stop the publication of a new negative article in a leading NY newspaper”. 

Also, that the company would be paid $300,000 if they succeeded in squashing the publication of the article in question.

The Black Cube contract was first reported by Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker, who revealed that the firm had deployed a number of investigators to befriend Weinstein’s accusers in a bid to extract information from them.

The contract had been signed, on Weinstein’s behalf, by lawyer David Boies, who was then also a legal adviser to the New York Times. 

The newspaper cut ties with him after the link was exposed.

AS REPORTED ON 23 JANUARY 2020: In her opening statement to the court, New York prosecutor Meghan Hast has described in graphic detail how the film mogul allegedly “groomed” and attacked six women looking for their big break in Hollywood, The Guardian reports.

“Different women, from different places, decades apart faced the same crimes,” Hast told jurors. Gesturing to Weinstein, she added: “The evidence will be clear that the man seated right there was not just a titan in Hollywood, but a rapist.”

Hast described one alleged attack in 2006: a woman had gone to Weinstein’s SoHo apartment in New York expecting a business conversation when the film mogul “dramatically changed without warning”. He forced her on to his bed and performed oral sex on her, Hast said.

“He put his weight on top of her and held her down. She kept saying no, kept trying to get up… but the defendant put his mouth on her vagina. She told him she had a tampon in. He yanked it out and continued orally sexually assaulting her.”

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On another occasion, Hast alleged, Weinstein showed up uninvited to the hotel room of The Sopranos actor Annabella Sciorra in his underwear, with baby oil in one hand and a videotape in the other.

Outlining another woman’s account, Hast said Weinstein allegedly lured her to his hotel room, pointed to three film scripts and suggested she could take her pick if she would “be kind” to him, The New York Times reports. 

When the woman tried to laugh it off, Weinstein allegedly become aggressive, and yelled: “This is how the industry works. How do you think other actresses got ahead?”

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Weinstein’s legal team rejected Hast’s claims.

One of his lawyers, Damon Cheronic, said the prosecution’s case “doesn’t hold water because it’s not true”. He added: “Harvey Weinstein was not a master manipulator, that’s a line from a movie that you are not going to see.”

Arthur Aidala, another member of Weinstein’s legal team, argued that the trial should be thrown out because the prosecution’s description of Weinstein as a “predator” and a “monster” was inappropriate and had tainted the jury.

Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon responded: “To call a person charged with sexual assault a predator, is like calling a person charged with robbery a robber.”

The trial continues.

AS REPORTED ON 8 JANUARY 2020: It’s been less than a week since the trial kicked off, but the drama has already begun.

On the second day of Weinstein’s rape trial, the judge threatened to revoke the former producer’s bail for using his phone in the courtroom.

“Mr Weinstein, I cannot implore you more not to answer the phone,” James Burke of New York county supreme court said, as per The Guardian.

“Is this really the way you want to end up in jail for the rest of your life – by texting in violation of a court order?”

Judge Burke then told Weinstein’s lawyer, Arthur Aidala, that if he caught Weinstein on his phone again, he would revoke the move producer’s $2 million bail.

Burke then told Aidala: “My advice to you is before you come into the courtroom take his [Weinstein’s] cellphone and put it in your briefcase. It’s my understanding that he did hand over his phone, but then he had two more.”

While Weinstein’s need for three phones remains a mystery, one thing is clear: there is plenty more drama to come.

What is the Los Angeles investigation into Harvey Weinstein? 

AS REPORTED ON 8 JANUARY 2020: On the first day of his New York trial, new criminal charges against Harvey Weinstein were announced by Los Angeles prosecutors, following a two-year investigation.

The disgraced movie mogul was charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013, LA officials said, as per The Guardian. The charges include forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint.

If convicted, Weinstein faces up to 28 years behind bars, prosecutors said.

“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” LA district attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement.

Two years ago, a taskforce was formed in Los Angeles to investigate allegations of assault within Hollywood and the wider entertainment industry. As part of this investigation, prosecutors were looking into eight instances of alleged sexual assault perpetrated by Weinstein, TIME reported. 

When is the trial against Harvey Weinstein happening? 

AS REPORTED ON 8 JANUARY 2020: The long-awaited trial began on January 6 in New York’s State Supreme Court. It could see dozens of women called by prosecutors to establish a patter of behaviour, and is expected to last at least two months.

Weinstein was set to face court in September 2019 but the trial was continuously delayed.

Appearing before Judge James Burke in New York on 26 August, Weinstein was asked if he was ready for the trial. The producer laughed and responded “not really“. Burke then moved the trial to January in order to give Weinstein’s legal team more time to prepare. The judge also reprimanded Weinstein for using his mobile phone during his court appearance.

“I’ve been informed you have taken your cell phone out,” Burke said. “Please refrain from doing that.” When Weinstein made a show of answering Burke, the judge replied: “It’s a court order. Don’t talk to me.” 

This is the third time the trial has been moved. It was originally intended to commence in March, but was moved back to 3 June in February in order to give Weinstein’s legal defence team more time to work on the case.

Harvey Weinstein with his lawyer in court on 9 July 

At one point, there was some debate over whether the trial would happen at all, after lawyers for Weinstein filed a motion to dismiss all charges against the producer in late 2018. But on 20 December Judge Burke denied the motion to dismiss and ruled that the trial would go ahead as planned.

“No basis for the defendant’s claim of prosecutorial or law enforcement misconduct in the proceedings,” was the judge’s ruling.

What are the charges against Harvey Weinstein?

AS REPORTED ON 27 AUGUST 2019: More than 80 women, including Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne, Lupita Nyong’o and Asia Argento have made claims of sexual misconduct, assault and even rape against Weinstein in the media. 

But the case being tried in court pertains to two specific incidents brought against Weinstein by two different anonymous victims. The first involves forced oral sex in 2006 in Weinstein’s New York apartment. The second was the alleged rape of a woman in a hotel room in 2013. The third charge, which was dismissed in October 2018, was brought by Lucia Evans, who alleged that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004.

Weinstein handed himself into police in May 2018, and was formally indicted in July. He was released on a $1 million (£751,000) bail and asked to hand over his passport and wear a tracking device in order to prevent him from fleeing US jurisdiction. 

On 26 August, Weinstein plead not guilty to a third instance of predatory sexual assault alleged by the actor Anabella Sciorra of The Sopranos. As outlined in her original account in The New Yorker, Sciorra alleges that Weinstein raped her at her New York apartment in 1993. “I was so ashamed of what happened,” Sciorra told Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker. “And I fought. I fought. But still I was like, ‘Why did I open that door? Who opens the door at that time of night?’ I was definitely embarassed by it. I felt disgusting. I felt like I had fucked up… I don’t even think I told the therapist. It’s pathetic.” 

Because the alleged assault happened outside of New York’s statute of limitations it will not be brought as a new charge against Weinstein. However, prosecutors can use Sciorra’s testimony as further evidence against Weinstein as  “sexual predator”. The producer’s defence team have said that the decision to call Sciorra as a witness is “desperate” and a testament to the “weak” stature of the prosecution’s case. 

What kind of jail time do these charges carry?

Harvey Weinstein handed himself into police in May 2018

AS REPORTED ON 27 AUGUST 2019: According to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, the charges carry “a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment”. 

Vance Jr added that these charges involved “some of the most serious sexual offences that exist under New York’s penal law.” 

“This indictment is the result of the extraordinary courage exhibited by the survivors who have come forward. Our investigation continues. If you are a survivor of the predatory abuse with which Mr Weinstein is charged, there is still time to pursue justice.”

Is there the chance of a financial settlement in the Harvey Weinstein trial? 

AS REPORTED ON 27 AUGUST 2019: Weinstein has already reached a settlement deal with a number of women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. This is a separate civil case to the criminal trial about to take place in New York.  

In this civil case a number of women are set to receive some $44 million in financial settlements from Weinstein. “That $44 million is not coming from Harvey Weinstein himself,” Corinne Ramey of The Wall Street Journal told NPR. “It’s actually coming from insurance policies.” 

The break down of this settlement is thus: $30 million for the accusers, creditors and employees of The Weinstein Company, with the remaining $14 million going to cover legal fees. 

Who is the legal team defending Harvey Weinstein? 

Harvey Weinstein Weinstein going to court in June

AS REPORTED ON 27 AUGUST 2019: Good question. 

There has been much movement within Weinstein’s legal team. At first, the film producer was represented by Benjamin Brafman, who was behind the motion to dismiss the criminal charges against the producer from 2018.

But in January Brafman quit, reportedly over repeated disagreements with Weinstein about the direction of the case. 

Benjamin Brafman 

After Brafman’s exit, Weinstein hired Jose Baez and Ronald Sullivan to spearhead his defence. Most recently Baez and Sullivan were seen defending Rose McGowan – one of Weinstein’s most vocal accusers – against drug possession charges after being found with cocaine in her wallet at an airport.

According to reports from the New York Post Weinstein is searching for another female lawyer to join this “dream team” of attorneys to join the two women from Baez and Sullivan’s firms already defending him. It’s just that Weinstein doesn’t want to pay top dollar for this lawyer, the reports allege.

“People around Harvey are saying he’s desperately trying to hire a ‘skirt’ – their term – for the team as he feels it will soften his image,” the New York Post reports. “Harvey does not want to pay premium fees,” an anonymous source added. Instead, he hopes that the female lawyers will work for less money in exchange for the ‘exposure’ of defending such a high profile case.

Who are the other lawyers involved?

AS REPORTED ON 27 AUGUST 2019: According to the New York Post, Weinstein wanted Pamela Mackey to defend him, but the pair “had a serious disagreement over her fee”. 

Isabelle Kirshner, one of New York’s top criminal defense lawyers, and Susan Necheles, currently defending the heiress Clare Bronfman against the NXIVM cult charges, both refused to join Weinstein’s legal team. He has also considered hiring Linda Fairstein, the former New York sex crimes ADA who was involved in the Central Park Five wrongful convictions, as a consultant.

Linda Fairstein

This isn’t the first time a woman has resigned from defending Weinstein.

Back in 2017, the producer hired Lisa Bloom – daughter of the renowned women’s rights lawyers Gloria Allred – to form part of his defensive team when allegations of sexual misconduct and assault were made against him in reports by The New York Times and The New Yorker. (In a twist of fate Allred is now representing Sciorra as she gives testimony against Weinstein.) 

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Bloom released a statement regarding her decision to take on Weinstein as a client describing him as an “old dinosaur learning new ways” and that she had “been blunt with Harvey and he listened to me”. But after backlash from several sources, including her own mother, Bloom resigned from Weinstein’s team.

“Had I been asked by Mr Weinstein to represent him, I would have declined, because I do not represent individuals accused of sex harassment,” Allred said at the time. “I would consider representing anyone who accused Mr Weinstein of sexual harassment, even if it meant that my daughter was the opposing counsel.”

This story was originally published on 27 August 2019 and has been updated. 

Images: Getty


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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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