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Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault

Weinstein was found guilty at a court in New York last month.

Image: Alec Tabak/PA Images

DISGRACED FILM PRODUCER Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years following his New York rape conviction.

Weinstein, who has been accused of violating scores of women, was convicted last month of raping a once-aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on former TV and film production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006. He faced a maximum of 29 years in prison.

Both women confronting Weinstein again in court today after their testimony helped seal his conviction at the landmark #MeToo trial.

“It takes a very special kind of evil to exploit connections to leverage rape,” said the 2013 rape accuser.

“Rape is not just one moment of penetration. It is forever,” added the woman, who recalled a moment during the trial when she left the witness stand in tears and then could be heard screaming from an adjacent room.

“The day my screams were heard from the witness room was the day my voice came back to its full power,” she said.

The Associated Press has a policy of not naming people who have been sexually assaulted without their consent. It is withholding the rape accuser’s name because it is not clear whether she wishes to be identified.

Weinstein, who has maintained that any sexual any sexual activity was consensual, showed no visible reaction to the sentence. Beforehand, he broke his courtroom silence and said his “empathy has grown” since his downfall.

He told the court he felt “remorse for this situation” but said he was perplexed by the case and the #MeToo climate in which it unfolded. “Thousands of men are losing due process. I’m worried about this country,” he said, arguing that men are being accused of “things that none of us understood”.

“I’m totally confused. I think men are confused about these issues,” he said.

Looking back during the trial at emails they exchanged, he said, he thought they had a good friendship: “I had wonderful times with these people.”

The executive behind such Oscar-winning films as Shakespeare in Love and Pulp Fiction became Exhibit A for the #MeToo movement after allegations about his behaviour burst into public view in The New York Times and The New Yorker in 2017.

More than 90 women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek and Uma Thurman, eventually came forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

One of Weinstein’s lawyers, Donna Rotunno, told the court he faced an uphill fight from the start of the trial, with media coverage of his allegations and the #MeToo movement making it impossible for him to get a truly fair shake.

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“How can we deny the fact that what happened before we walked in here had an impact?” Rotunno asked.

Weinstein’s lawyers pleaded for leniency because of his age and frail health, and prosecutors, who said the man once celebrated as a titan of Hollywood deserved a harsh sentence that would account for allegations of wrongdoing dating back decades.

Weinstein was sentenced a week shy of his 68th birthday, and his lawyers argued that a lengthy prison term would, in effect, be a life sentence. They had sought a five-year sentence.

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.

He was acquitted of the more serious charges against him of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault.

With reporting by Sean Murray

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