Harvey Weinstein jailed for 23 years in landmark sexual assault case

11 March 2020, 15:07 | Updated: 11 March 2020, 16:13

Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years behind bars
Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years behind bars. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been jailed for 23 years in a landmark #MeToo sexual assault case.

The former movie mogul was found guilty in February of third-degree rape in a case involving a woman in a New York City hotel room in 2013, and of a criminal act in the first degree for forcibly performing oral sex on a woman at his apartment in 2006.

He had previously been accused of violating scores of women during his years as one of Hollywood's most powerful men, which ushered in the #MeToo era.

Weinstein, who faced a maximum sentence of 29 years in prison on Wednesday, will now be forced to register as a sex offender.

Accuser Dawn Dunning was in court for the sentencing
Accuser Dawn Dunning was in court for the sentencing. Picture: PA

Confronting her rapist ahead of his sentencing, a once-aspiring actress recalled her "screams" as she left the witness box in tears during the trial.

She said: "The day my screams were heard from the witness room was the day my voice came back to its full power.

"Rape is not just one moment of penetration. It is forever."

Weinstein, who arrived in a wheelchair on Tuesday due to back problems sustained in a car crash last year, maintained the sexual acts were consensual and that he remained "confused" about what happened.

"I'm not going to say these aren't great people," he said, adding: "I had wonderful times with these people. I'm just genuinely confused. Men are confused about this issue."

Miriam Haley accused Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her in 2006
Miriam Haley accused Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her in 2006. Picture: PA

The judge also heard from Weinstein's lawyers during the sentencing, where they pleaded for leniency for the 67-year-old.

Citing his age and frail health, the lawyers called for a lesser sentence for the man once celebrated as a titan of Hollywood.

They also argued that a long prison term - handed over less than a week before his 68th birthday - would essentially form a life sentence.

Weinstein originally stood trial for five charges, and was acquitted of the more serious three, including first-degree rape and two counts of predatory assault.

His lawyers are now set to move forward with an appeal over his two convictions.

They are unhappy with how the case was handled, including the timing and the choice of jurors.

Accuser Annabella Sciorra, right, walks with friend Rosie Perez (left) as they arrived at the hearing
Accuser Annabella Sciorra, right, walks with friend Rosie Perez (left) as they arrived at the hearing. Picture: PA

Following the sentencing announcement, a statement released by 24 of the mogul's accusers said his legacy would "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."

Weinstein is now set to face a new wave charges dating back to 2013 in California.

He stands accused of raping a woman at a hotel in Los Angeles on 18 February, 2013, and assaulting a woman at the Beverly Hills hotel suite the following night.

It is not yet clear when he will face these charges.