Harvey Weinstein Sentenced to 16 Years After Rape Conviction, Putting Former Movie Mogul Behind Bars for Life

Harvey Weinstein
Etienne Laurent-Pool/Getty Images

Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 16 years, effectively ensuring the former Hollywood mogul and convicted rapist will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Weinstein’s sentencing was held in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday morning, nearly two months after his Los Angeles trial concluded with a jury convicting him on three counts of rape and sexual assault.

Weinstein is already serving a 23-year sentence in New York, after being convicted of rape and sexual assault in that jurisdiction in his 2020 criminal trial. On Thursday, the judge ordered Weinstein to serve his L.A. sentence consecutively after New York.

Before he was sentenced, Weinstein addressed the court, making one final plea to Judge Lisa B. Lench. “I maintain that I’m innocent,” Weinstein said.

“This is about money and coming after me,” Weinstein said. “Please don’t sentence me to life in prison. I don’t deserve it… There are so many things wrong with this case. There is no evidence… This is a setup… I beg your mercy.”

Weinstein’s defense, led by Mark Werksman and Alan Jackson, asked the judge to sentence him to only three years, urging her to look to the man he was “before he became accused as a sexual predator,” and saying that he has “become a caricature because of the #MeToo movement.” His attorney noted that Weinstein has medical issues and is a father. “He’s a 70-year-old man in bad health,” Werksman said. “He lived a full, rich and productive life that included being a father five children… He has become to his children the disembodied voice on the telephone.”

Werksman hailed Weinstein’s work in the entertainment industry, urging the judge to recognize his accomplishments. “Mr. Weinstein did a lot of good for a lot of people in a 50-year career,” Werksman said. “He produced hundreds of films that were a joy to millions of people… He was a man that many famous movie stars would thank in their Oscar speeches… He gave generously to charities and political causes.”

After Weinstein and his attorneys spoke, the judge sentenced Weinstein to 16 years for the three charges on which the jury found him guilty. “These are not easy decisions to make, but this is my decision,” Lench said.

All three charges on which Weinstein were convicted were based on the counts relating to Jane Doe #1, a European model who testified she was raped by Weinstein at Mr. C Hotel after the L.A. Italia Film Festival in 2013.

Joe Doe #1 appeared in court, alongside her daughter, to deliver an emotional victim impact statement, crying throughout as she spoke at a podium. She urged the judge to put Weinstein behind bars for life. “There is no prison sentence long enough to erase the damage,” she said. “I hope you give him the maximum sentence allowed.”

“I have been carrying this weight, this trauma, that it was my fault for years,” Jane Doe #1 said, addressing the judge. “Before that night, I was a very happy and confident women… I was excited about my future… Everything changed after… Inside, I had fallen apart. I was punishing myself for what he did to me.”

When Weinstein spoke, Jane Doe #1 was audibly crying, and her tears were heard over his statement. Weinstein told the judge that Jane Doe #1 lied about the entire rape and maintained that he never sexually assaulted her, or even came in contact with her. “The fact is I don’t know this woman and she doesn’t know me,” Weinstein said. “This is a made up story. With all due respect, Jane Doe #1 is an actress and can turn on the tears… This isn’t true.”

Weinstein’s team has focused intently on Jane Doe #1, using her as their argument to request a new trial with a new jury, which the judge shot down on Thursday morning, ahead of the sentencing. Jane Doe #1 will likely be the focal point of their appeal.

Weinstein’s attorneys have argued that the judge wrongly precluded them from introducing relevant evidence and argument, particularly centering around Jane Doe #1. Before the sentencing, Jackson delivered a lengthy argument as to why Weinstein should be granted a new trial, alleging that the judge “allowed perjury on the stand” from Jane Doe #1. He said the defense was “sandbagged by a lie told on the stand,” and claimed the jury “got sucked into the lies of Jane Doe #1.”

Two jurors were seated in the gallery on Thursday, which Weinstein referenced to the judge as support for him. Weinstein’s attorneys said the jury “would never have voted to convict if they knew the truth.” Lead prosecutor, deputy D.A. Paul Thompson, jabbed back at Weinstein’s attorneys, exclaiming, “It is certainly not the defense’s job to go hunt down jurors.”

Before denying Weinstein’s motion for a new trial, the judge said that speculating on whether jurors might have changed their verdict, based on evidence that wasn’t submitted into the case was “speculative” and not “appropriate.”

Shortly after court was dismissed on Thursday afternoon, the two jurors present spoke to reporters in the hallway. They said they had been in communication with the defense, and were interested in coming to Weinstein’s sentencing to gather more information. “I was never here to advocate,” a juror named Michael told Variety. “There is so much we don’t know in this case. The more info, the better because it helps flesh it out.” A juror named Jay said, “We weren’t on anybody’s side,” and expressed that even with more evidence, he’s unsure whether he would have changed his conviction. “I don’t know if he would have been acquitted. I don’t even know if it’s true that she lied,” Jay said. “I don’t feel bad,” he said of Weinstein. “We knew he was going to get sentenced.”

Thursday’s sentencing all but ensures that Weinstein, who will turn 71 years old next month, will spend the remainder of his life in prison, marking a stunning downfall for the the Oscar winner who reigned over Hollywood and was once one of the most powerful individuals in the entertainment industry.

His team, however, is still fighting for Weinstein’s freedom. Werksman and Jackson said on Thursday that they will be appealing the Los Angeles conviction. In New York, the Court of Appeals, which is the highest court in the state, agreed to hear Weinstein’s appeal of his 2020 sex crimes conviction.

In his L.A. trial, which ran from October through December 2022, prosecutors argued that Weinstein was a predator who used his power to lure and attack women in hotel rooms under the guise of a business meeting or audition, while his defense argued that the women willingly engaged in “transactional sex” because Weinstein was so influential in the entertainment industry.

Weinstein initially faced 11 charges in L.A., but four charges, all relating to Jane Doe #5, were dismissed in the midst of the trial. The jury delivered a split verdict, convicting him on the three counts relating to Jane Doe #1 but acquitting him of the sexual battery of a massage therapist, identified as Jane Doe #3. They could not reach a unanimous verdict on the charges involving two other accusers, aspiring actor and screenwriter Lauren Young, known as Jane Doe #2 in the case, and the First Partner of California, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who was Jane Doe #4. The judge declared a mistrial on those three charges.

Weinstein has been accused by more than 100 women who have publicly come forward with allegations of sexual assault, abuse and harassment that have spanned decades. His monumental fall was the fuse the ignited #MeToo in 2017, and the story of his survivors coming forward even inspired a major studio film, “She Said,” which was released in theaters last year. Weinstein has consistently maintained his innocence, denying any accusations of rape or assault, and his legal team has repeatedly stated that their client has unfairly been painted as the poster boy of the #MeToo movement.

From Variety US