Harvey Weinstein (Photo Credit: File)
Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison by a New York judge on Wednesday, two weeks after he was convicted of rape and sexual assault. Judge James Burke ignored the pleas of Weinstein's defence team to give their client the minimum of five years behind bars. Weinstein, 67, was found guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree on February 24, in a verdict hailed by the #MeToo movement.
He was faceing a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 29 years in prison for raping an aspiring actress in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006. A second criminal case is pending in California.
Weinstein was convicted on two counts: criminal sex act for the 2006 assault on the production assistant and rape in the third degree for a 2013 attack on another woman. On the criminal sex act count, he faced a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 25 years in prison, while the third-degree rape count carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison.
Weinstein was acquitted of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault stemming from actress Annabella Sciorra's allegations of a mid-1990s rape. Weinstein maintains his innocence and contends that any sexual activity was consensual.
Newly unsealed documents show the 67-year-old former film producer sought help from billionaires Jeff Bezos and Michael Bloomberg as sexual misconduct allegations against him piled up in October 2017, and that he considered issuing a statement at the time claiming that he was suicidal. There is no evidence to suggest either man responded.
The New York case was the first criminal matter against Weinstein to arise from accusations of more than 90 women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek and Uma Thurman.
Many of Weinstein's accusers say he used his Hollywood prestige to befriend them, dangling movie roles to gain their trust.
Weinstein's lawyers are seeking the minimum sentence of five years in prison because of his age and frail health.
Weinstein, who turns 68 next week, used a walker throughout the trial following recent back surgeries. After his February 24 conviction, he split time between a hospital and a jail infirmary unit, and had a stent inserted last week to unblock an artery.