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Cinema

Harvey Weinstein Gets 16 More Years for Rape, Sexual Assault

February 24, 2023

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles judge on Thursday sentenced Harvey Weinstein to 16 more years in prison after a jury convicted him of the rape and sexual assault of an Italian actor and model, furthering the fall of the onetime movie magnate who became a #MeToo magnet.

The prison term, along with the 23 years he received in 2020 for a similar conviction in New York, amounts to a likely life sentence for the 70-year-old.

Weinstein, sitting in a wheelchair and wearing jail attire, directly appealed to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench, saying: “I maintain that I’m innocent. I never raped or sexually assaulted Jane Doe 1. ” The woman who Weinstein was convicted of raping sobbed in the courtroom as he spoke.

Moments earlier she had told the judge about the pain she felt after being attacked by Weinstein. “Before that night I was a very happy and confident woman. I valued myself and the relationship I had with God,” the woman, who was identified in court only as Jane Doe 1, said through tears as she stood at a lectern behind prosecutors. “I was excited about my future. Everything changed after the defendant brutally assaulted me. There is no prison sentence long enough to undo the damage.”

Jurors in December convicted Weinstein of one count of rape and two counts of sexual assault against the woman who at the trial’s opening in October gave a dramatic and emotional account of him arriving uninvited at her hotel room during a 2013 film festival in the run-up to the Oscars, talking his way in and assaulting her during a film festival.

Lench sentenced Weinstein to eight years for a forcible rape count, six years for forcible oral copulation and two years for forcible penetration with a foreign object, for a combined 16 years.

His attorneys requested that she sentence him to three years for each count, and have the sentences run simultaneously.

“Mr. Weinstein did a lot of good for a lot of people in a 50 year career, ” Weinstein lawyer Mark Werksman told the judge. “He was a man that many famous movie stars would thank in their Oscar speeches.”

Werksman cited Weinstein’s age and very poor health, suggesting a long sentence would make it unlikely he would ever see his five children outside of prison.

Jane Doe 1 could be heard crying in court throughout Werksman and Weinstein’s remarks to the judge.

“This is a made up story. Jane Doe 1 is an actress. She can turn the tears on,” said Weinstein, who insisted he had never met the woman. “Please don’t sentence me to life in prison. I don’t deserve it. There are so many things wrong with this case.”

The jury acquitted Weinstein of the sexual battery of a massage therapist and failed to reach verdicts on counts involving two other women.

“Today, justice prevailed for survivors,” the massage therapist, known during trial as Jane Doe 3, said in a statement issued through her attorney after the sentencing. “No woman has to fear Harvey Weinstein again as he will never leave prison.”

The defense contends that Weinstein had consensual sex with two of the women he was charged with assaulting and that two others were making up the incidents entirely.

Lench handed down the sentence Thursday after rejecting a motion by Weinstein’s lawyers for a new trial. In arguments they said the judge was wrong to exclude from evidence messages showing that the Italian model had a sexual relationship with the director of the film festival she was visiting during the attack.

Defense attorney Alan Jackson said that rape shield laws excluding the sexual history of a victim were not relevant here, because the defense would have used the messages to show that the woman perjured herself and damaged her credibility when she testified that she and the festival director, Pascal Videcomini, were merely friends and colleagues.

“If the jury had known that Jane Doe 1 and Pascal were intimately involved, they never would have bought the story that was told,” Jackson said. “We know they wouldn’t have bought it. Because some of them have said so.”

Jackson argued that the messages would also have bolstered defense arguments that the woman was not even in her hotel room, where she testified the attack occurred, but was with Vicedomini.

The defense had given the judge affidavits from jurors, two of whom were in the audience for the sentencing, that the evidence might have made them decide differently.

Lench called the juror statements “speculation” about how the evidence would have played out that were not relevant under the law.

The two jurors, who only gave their first names Michael and Jay, told reporters outside the courtroom that they were not there to advocate for either side, but said hearing about the messages might have changed deliberations.

The issue is likely to be at the forefront of Weinstein’s upcoming appeal.

Prosecutors and Weinstein’s attorneys declined comment on the sentence.

The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually assaulted.

Legal uncertainties remain on both coasts for Weinstein.

New York’s highest court has agreed to hear his appeal in his rape and sexual assault convictions there. And prosecutors in Los Angeles have yet to say whether they will retry Weinstein on counts they were unable to reach a verdict on. A hearing on the possible retrial is scheduled for next month.

Weinstein is eligible for parole in New York in 2039.

 

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