Prison sentence of movie producer turned convicted rapist could range from five to 29 years
Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of raping a woman as well as forcing oral sex on a production assistant. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
Harvey Weinstein, the titan of Hollywood turned convicted rapist, will learn his fate on Wednesday morning when he is sentenced at the New York supreme court to a spell in prison that could range from five to 29 years.
The fallen movie mogul will make one final appearance in courtroom 99 having had an eventful first two weeks in custody since he was convicted on 24 February of two counts of sexual assault. In that time he has had heart surgery and was said by his spokesman to be “miserable”.
His woes could get considerably worse when he faces James Burke, the judge presiding over his prosecution who will deliver the sentencing. Burke is being encouraged by New York prosecutors to hand down a very lengthy sentence given the disgraced film producer’s “lifetime of abuse”.
Weinstein, 67, was found guilty of raping a woman whom the Guardian is not naming because her wishes over identification are not clear, as well as forcing oral sex on a production assistant Miriam Haley. If the maximum sentences of the two convictions were combined, the most severe punishment the judge could have imposed would have been 29 years in prison.
Since he was convicted, Weinstein has been moving between a secure wing of Bellevue hospital in Manhattan where he underwent heart surgery in which a stent was fitted and the North Infirmary of Rikers Island where he now resides. His spokesman, Juda Engelmayer, told Page Six that he was miserable but trying to be optimistic, even though he suffered a fall earlier this week.
“He has had a lot of time to think about his life and be humbled, but he thinks it’s going to be a long, uphill battle from here.”
In reaching his decision over sentencing at the New York supreme court, Burke will have had to weigh highly contrasting arguments about the nature of the fallen movie mogul’s crimes. His defense lawyers led by Donna Rotunno had argued that Weinstein’s “remarkable accomplishments” should be taken into account as mitigation, and called for the lightest possible sentence of five years imprisonment.
The chief prosecutor, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, on the other hand, called for a sentence that would match his long record of sexual misconduct dating back to the 1970s. She said he “consistently advanced his own sordid desires and fixations over the wellbeing of others”.
After sentencing, Weinstein will pass into the bowels of the New York state department of corrections. He will be taken to a reception center in Fishkill, New York, for “processing”, and then transported to a prison in upstate New York.
He is likely to experience a rude awakening as he enters the prison system. As part of his reception procedure, he will be required to have a shower and go through delousing treatment.
He will then be made to sit through a suicide prevention video. That part of the proceedings is likely to be closely observed as New York is in a heightened state of tension after the financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in a federal jail in Manhattan.
Weinstein had also indicated he had suicidal thoughts in documents released on Tuesday from December 2017.
As a way of keeping his spirits up, Weinstein may like to reflect on the fact that once sentencing is behind him he can get busy filing appeals. His lawyers have already indicated they will do so, and much of their strategy during the trial seemed to be designed to plant seeds of possible legal challenges.
Under New York law, Weinstein must file a notice that he intends to appeal with the state appeals court within 30 days, and lodge a full argument for why he is challenging the conviction or sentence, known as an “appeal brief”, within 120 days.
Less happily, there remain numerous legal perils ahead. Authorities in Los Angeles are still pursuing an active criminal case against him relating to two incidents of alleged sexual assault in 2013, and several women are continuing to press civil charges against him.
- In the US, Rainn offers support at 800-656-4673 or by chat at Rainn.org. In the UK, the rape crisis national freephone helpline is at 0808-802-9999. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800-737-7328) or1800respect.org.au. Other international helplines can be found at Ibiblio.org.