“A severe sentence,” ABC’s Erielle Reshef reports, “and perhaps a watershed moment.” Despite avoiding convictions on the most serious charges in his rape trial in New York, Harvey Weinstein got nearly the maximum sentence from the judge. He could have drawn 29 years in prison, but instead got 23 years — and it’s structured consecutively rather than concurrently.
Weinstein’s attempt to throw himself on the mercy of the court failed miserably, Reshef concludes. Obviously.
BREAKING: Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years in prison.
— ABC News (@ABC) March 11, 2020
Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years on sex crime convictions in New York on Wednesday.
That sentence includes 20 years for criminal sexual assault in the first degree, which stems from an accusation from former “Project Runway” production assistant Mimi Haley, and three years for rape in the third degree, which stems from an accusation from Jessica Mann, who is now being named by ABC News as she told the district attorney’s office after a verdict was reached she does not object to being named publicly.
The Los Angeles Times calls it perhaps a de facto life sentence from Judge James Burke, considering Weinstein’s age and health:
In what could amount to a life sentence, New York State Supreme Court Justice James Burke handed Weinstein a 20-year term for committing a criminal sex act on Mimi Haley, a former production assistant, and a 3-year term for raping Jessica Mann, an aspiring actress. Weinstein must serve the terms consecutively. …
Prosecutors also interviewed several former business associates of Weinstein, who described him as a cold and violent “monster” during meetings and in the workplace.
In one incident, Weinstein allegedly beat his brother Bob during a meeting, leaving him bloodied and unconscious. After an argument with a Weinstein Co. board member in 2015, the fallen Hollywood titan promised to “send someone to his office to cut off his genitals with gardening shears,” according to the prosecution memo.
“Throughout his entire adult professional life, defendant has displayed a staggering lack of empathy, treating others with disdain and inhumanity. He has consistently advanced his own sordid desires and fixations over the well-being of others,” prosecutors wrote. “He has destroyed people’s lives or livelihoods or threatened to do so on a whim.”
The defense team tried arguing that Weinstein deserved a lighter sentence as a first offender. That didn’t cut much weight with the judge, and ABC’s criminal-defense expert made the obvious counter-argument that must have swayed the judge:
"The defense harped on the idea that he had no criminal record," criminal defense attorney Julie Rendelman tells @ABC.
— ABC News (@ABC) March 11, 2020
In that sense, it might be a watershed moment. Weinstein, after all, is not your run-of-the-mill first offender. He hired private investigators to intimidate victims and witnesses over the years, as Ronan Farrow uncovered in his blockbuster report on Weinstein’s predations. That in itself makes Weinstein look as though he was manipulating the system to keep from facing any accountability over a very long period of years.
Undoubtedly Weinstein will appeal the sentence as well as the conviction, but those will both be uphill battles. Even if he somehow prevails in some fashion in those efforts, the Los Angeles district attorney’s office will put Weinstein on trial soon for similar charges. One way or another, Weinstein will be facing a life sentence, and the big question might only be which taxpayers end up footing the bill for Big Harv.