Harvey Weinstein, the onetime Hollywood titan who came to epitomise a culture of pervasive sexual misconduct by powerful men that ignited the #MeToo movement, was sentenced on Thursday to 16 years in prison for the 2013 rape of an actress in Los Angeles.
Weinstein was sentenced in a Los Angeles courtroom, where a jury in December found him guilty of rape.
The charges stemmed from an assault on a former model and actress, identified in court as Jane Doe 1, at a Los Angeles hotel in Feb 2013.
Weinstein, the powerful co-founder of Miramax Films, a US movie production and distribution house, will serve the sentence after completing his 23-year sentence for a sexual misconduct conviction in New York.
Allegations against Weinstein helped fuel the #MeToo movement, which has encouraged women to speak out about sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men in media, politics and other endeavours. The movement, which went viral on social media in 2017, seeks to break a culture of silence that has long allowed such conduct to go unchallenged.
Weinstein, who produced Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love and other successful independent films, has said all of his sexual encounters had been consensual, and he pleaded not guilty in the Los Angeles case.
Prosecutors called for a “high-term” penalty of 24 years because of the prior conviction, rather than a “mid-term” sentence of 18 years that California law would otherwise prescribe, absent additional “aggravating” factors.
Weinstein’s team opposed the district attorney’s recommendation for a high-term, consecutive sentence, given Weinstein’s “advanced age and deteriorating health”, defence lawyer Mark Werksman said in an email.
The jury acquitted Weinstein of charges relating to a second alleged victim and failed to reach a unanimous verdict on charges arising from two other accusers.
One of them, documentary filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom, now the wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom, had disclosed she was the alleged rape victim referred to in court records as Jane Doe 4.
Originally published in Dawn, February 24th, 2023