Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison. Judge James Burke handed down the decision in a Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday as the disgraced movie mogul watched, flanked by his legal team.
His 20-year sentence for a criminal sexual act, the more serious of the two counts he was convicted, is on the higher end of New York state’s guidelines. For the other count, rape in the third degree, Weinstein was sentenced to three years in prison.
“We thank the survivors for their remarkable statements today and indescribable courage over the last two years,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
“Harvey Weinstein deployed nothing less than an army of spies to keep them silent,” he added. “But they refused to be silent, and they were heard. Their words took down a predator and put him behind bars and gave hope to survivors of sexual violence all across the world.”
The sentencing Wednesday caps Weinstein’s precipitous fall from the heights of Hollywood, where, for decades, he brandished his power and influence like a blunt instrument — and allegedly sexually assaulted dozens of young women, intimidating them and others into silence.
Those allegations, which gathered momentum with the release of a pair of exposés in October 2017, landed him in court earlier this year to face his first criminal trial. The charges, including two counts of predatory sexual assault, could have led to his spending the rest of his life in prison — but jurors, after hearing weeks of arguments and deliberating another five days, acquitted him of the most serious charges.
Weinstein’s legal team cited this mixed verdict in a letter to the court, arguing that anything above the mandatory minimum of five years “is likely to constitute a de facto life sentence.” And after the 23-year sentence was handed down Wednesday, his lawyers labeled it “obscene.”
“That number spoke to the pressure of movements and the public. That number did not speak to the evidence that came out of trial. That number did not speak to the testimony that we heard,” defense attorney Donna Rotunno told reporters outside the courthouse afterward, adding: “I think the judge caved, just as I believe the jury caved.”
Weinstein displayed signs of poor health throughout the court hearings, which he attended with the aid of a walker. After his verdict was read — and before heading to the Rikers Island jail complex, where he had been awaiting sentencing — authorities took him to a hospital, where doctors placed a stent in his heart.
When he returned for his sentencing hearing Wednesday, he did so in a wheelchair.
Weinstein, who did not take the stand during the trial, did speak to the court during the hearing. He compared himself to Dalton Trumbo, an American screenwriter who was notoriously blacklisted in the 1940s for being a member of the Communist Party. And Weinstein, whose alleged assaults help spur the #MeToo movement, which boosts the voices of survivors, compared the environment it has created to the Red Scare.
“I’m worried about this country,” he said.
The lead prosecutor, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, argued against leniency by relating a list of deeply detailed allegations of sexual assault, harassment and other abuse dating back to the 1970s. In her letter to the judge, she said the examples bolstered the accounts offered by Mann, Haley and the four other women who told their stories on the witness stand.
“Rape is not that one moment of penetration,” Mann said in her statement to the court Wednesday. “It is forever.”
She and the five other women who testified that Weinstein assaulted them sat together during the sentencing hearing as a gesture of solidarity. Among the group was Tarale Wulff, whose allegation of rape in 2005 was not included in the charges but who nevertheless took the stand during the trial to support the prosecutors’ case.
In a statement to reporters after the sentencing Wednesday, she said it made her “joyous” to hear the lengthy prison term handed down in court.
“I hope that this sentence sends a clear message that times have changed and that more women need to speak out for themselves, and that men and women need to speak out for each other,” Wulff said, adding: “This is hopefully just the beginning.”
2. Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart has addressed that infamous kiss with director Rupert Sanders – insisting they never had sex. The Charlie’s Angels star dished the dirt on the scandalous affair in her most candid interview yet, speaking to Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show. Cast your minds back to July 2012. Although they hadn’t officially confirmed their relationship at the time, Kristen and her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson were Hollywood’s hottest young couple, and the actress had just appeared in Snow White and The Huntsman, directed by Rupert Sanders – who was married to model Liberty Ross. However, the relationships and K-Stew’s career were rocked by a set of pictures which emerged, showing the Twilight star and Rupert – who was 19 years Kristen’s senior – kissing in a car and cuddling on a bridge.
Kristen was forced to issue a public apology – but seven years on, the now 29-year-old has talked about the scandal, and denied that the ‘affair’ went further than kissing and cuddling.
She said: ‘I did not f*** him. This is like the most candid interview. No, I didn’t f*** him.’ Howard asks why she didn’t ‘shout that from the mountaintops’ at the time, with Kristen replying: ‘Well, who’s going to believe me? It doesn’t even matter. ‘It looked like… You know, you make out with a dude in public, it definitely looks like you did.’ And looking back on the drama, Kristen is pretty annoyed that she was ditched from the 2016 sequel, The Huntsman: Winter’s War because of it. The actress said: ‘We lived in a different time then, you know what I mean? I feel like the slut-shaming that went down was so absurd. And they should’ve put me in that movie! It would’ve been better. Not to be a d***, but…
‘They didn’t put me in that movie because I went through such a highly publicized scandal, and so they were like scared of touching that.’ Kristen continued: ‘I wouldn’t say that I fell in love with the director. It was kind of a weird thing, but I definitely think that that movie… Ugh, it wasn’t that big of a deal, you know what I’m saying? The work is so much more important! ‘It’s like, what do you care if I… I just thought that that movie actually – we could have made a great second one, and we could have done it in a functional and healthy way. We didn’t ultimately do that, and that’s okay cause I did other stuff and it’s fine, but yeah, that was weird.’ She added: ‘That was a really hard period of my life. I was really young. I didn’t really know how to deal with that. I made some mistakes. And honestly, it’s no one’s business. And, people get over s*** like that, you know what I mean? It’s really not a big deal.
‘Basically, what I’m saying is, the work to me genuinely was ignored in a really sort of frivolous, silly, petty way. For a group of adult people who were supposed to be running studios and making films? Honestly, the film industry in Hollywood is so fear-based. ‘I think they’re idiots, because if you take a little risk and make something good, people will watch it and like it and pay you.’ Kristen and Robert had never even gone public with their relationship, but the Bella Swan actress was forced to issue an apology after the pictures emerged. She said: ‘I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I’ve caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected. This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I’m so sorry.’
3. Casey Affleck
Casey Affleck gave his first substantive interview about the sexual harassment allegations levied against him. Two women sued the actor for sexual harassment the set of the mockumentary I’m Still Here, which Affleck directed and produced. Affleck settled both lawsuits out of court, but the accusations resurfaced in the news during the lead-up to his 2017 Oscar win for Best Actor for Manchester By the Sea.
“It was an unprofessional environment and, you know, the buck had to stop with me being one of the producers and I have to accept responsibility for that and that was a mistake,” he told the Associated Press in an interview published Thursday. “I contributed to that unprofessional environment and I tolerated that kind of behavior from other people and I wish that I hadn’t. And I regret a lot of that. I really did not know what I was responsible for as the boss. I don’t even know if I thought of myself as the boss. But I behaved in a way and allowed others to behave in a way that was really unprofessional. And I’m sorry.”
Here is what you need to know about the controversy:
In 2010, two women filed sexual harassment suits against him. One of the women claimed that Affleck crawled into bed with her without her consent while she was asleep. He allegedly pressured the other woman to stay in his hotel room and “violently grabbed her arm in an effort to intimidate her into staying” when she refused, according to the complaint.
The women claimed he verbally disparaged them and directed a subordinate to expose himself to one of them, among other types of misconduct. They also said that Affleck and the film’s star, Joaquin Phoenix, locked themselves in the women’s shared hotel room with two other women, allegedly to have sex with them.
Affleck was sued for $2 million by one woman and $2.25 million by the other. Both cases were settled out of court for an undisclosed amount in 2010.
At the time the suits were filed, Affleck denied the claims and threatened to countersue. Affleck’s lawyer initially told People: “The complaint will be vigorously defended and cross-claims will be filed.” They never did counter-sue and settled out of court.
When he was profiled by the New York Times in 2016, he responded to the allegations via email. “It was settled to the satisfaction of all. I was hurt and upset—I am sure all were—but I am over it,” he wrote. “It was an unfortunate situation—mostly for the innocent bystanders of the families of those involved.”
In a Variety cover story, Affleck said: “People say whatever they want. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you respond… I guess people think if you’re well-known, it’s perfectly fine to say anything you want. I don’t know why that is. But it shouldn’t be because everybody has families and lives.”
During his acceptance speech for the Best Actor Golden Globe, Affleck alluded to the “noise” that comes with fame, which some interpreted as a reference to the lawsuits and the press surrounding them.
“Despite how I might think I’m in charge at my house, it’s my kids who give me permission to do this because they have got the strength of character to keep at bay all the noise that sometimes surrounds people who live publicly,” he said. (A few outlets also noted that actress Brie Larson, who presented Affleck with his award at the Globes, did not hug him or shake his hand as is customary.)
The conversation about Affleck’s behavior predated the Weinstein revelations in The New Yorker and New York Times and the peak of the groundswell behind the #MeToo movement that would come months later and presaged what was to come.
At the time, Crazy Rich Asians star Constance Wu was one of the Academy’s most outspoken critics: She posted a series of strongly worded tweets shortly after the nominations. She has gone on to become one of the leaders in the Time’s Up movement.
Journalists, from FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver to New York Times and New York Magazine writer Angelica Jade and Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers, all called out Affleck on Twitter leading up to his victory.
Many critics argued that giving Affleck an Oscar would lead to the actor gaining more power, money and influence in Hollywood. Rewarding men who abused women, they said, perpetuates a cycle of sexism in the industry. Jade, for instance, argued it was hypocritical for the Academy to promote greater diversity (including gender diversity) and nominate Affleck.
Wu wrote, “He’s running for an award that honors a craft whose purpose is examining the dignity of the human experience & young women are deeply human” and then went on to suggest that the clout of the Affleck family has kept some silent in Hollywood. (Actor Matt Damon produced Manchester by the Sea.) She tweeted, “I’ve been counseled not to talk about this for career’s sake. F my career then, I’m a woman & human first. That’s what my craft is built on.”
The Academy has a long history with nominees who have been accused of misconduct. Roman Polanski fled the country after he was arrested for and pled guilty to the rape of a 13-year-old girl and has since won an Oscar. Woody Allen has been accused of sexually abusing his adopted daughter but has been honored by the Oscars.
Many argued that Affleck’s nomination was just the latest example of the Academy’s longstanding tradition of ignoring harassment allegations. This argument was bolstered by the surprise nomination of Mel Gibson that same year, who was caught on tape in a drunken anti-Semitic rant in 2006 and later pled no contest to misdemeanor battery in 2011 for hitting his ex-girlfriend repeatedly in the face.
Traditionally, the winner in the past year’s Best Actor category presents the award for Best Actress, and vice versa. Affleck did not present the Oscar for Best Actress earlier this year. He told the Associated Press, “I think [stepping aside] was the right thing to do just given everything that was going on in our culture at the moment. And having two incredible women go present the best actress award felt like the right thing.”
“First of all, that I was ever involved in a conflict that resulted in a lawsuit is something that I really regret,” Affleck told the Associated Press. “I wish I had found a way to resolve things in a different way. I hate that. I had never had any complaints like that made about me before in my life and it was really embarrassing and I didn’t know how to handle it and I didn’t agree with everything, the way I was being described, and the things that were said about me, but I wanted to try to make it right, so we made it right in the way that was asked at the time. And we all agreed to just try to put it behind us and move on with our lives, which I think we deserve to do, and I want to respect them as they’ve respected me and my privacy. And that’s that.
“Over the past couple of years, I’ve been listening a lot to this conversation, this public conversation, and learned a lot. I kind of moved from a place of being defensive to one of a more mature point of view, trying to find my own culpability. And once I did that I discovered there was a lot to learn. I was a boss. I was one of the producers on the set. This movie was (shot in 2008, 2009) and I was one of the producers. And it was a crazy mockumentary, (a) very unconventional movie. The cast was the crew and the crew was kind of the cast and it was an unprofessional environment and, you know, the buck had to stop with me being one of the producers and I have to accept responsibility for that and that was a mistake. And I contributed to that unprofessional environment and I tolerated that kind of behavior from other people and I wish that I hadn’t. And I regret a lot of that. I really did not know what I was responsible for as the boss. I don’t even know if I thought of myself as the boss. But I behaved in a way and allowed others to behave in a way that was really unprofessional. And I’m sorry.”
“In this business women have been underrepresented and underpaid and objectified and diminished and humiliated and belittled in a bazillion ways and just generally had a mountain of grief thrown at them forever,” he told the Associated Press. “And no one was really making too much of a fuss about it, myself included, until a few women with the kind of courage and wisdom to stand up and say, ‘You know what? Enough is enough.’ Those are the people who are kind of leading this conversation and should be leading the conversation.
“And I know just enough to know that in general I need to keep my mouth shut and listen and try to figure out what’s going on and be a supporter and a follower in the little, teeny tiny ways that I can. And we do that at our production company and I try to do it at home, and if I’m ever called upon by anyone to help in any way and contribute, I’d be more than happy to.”
4. Ronan Farrow
Ronan Farrow, whose reporting on Harvey Weinstein helped launch the #MeToo movement and netted him the Pulitzer Prize, has threatened to leave his publisher over its acquisition of a memoir by his estranged father, Woody Allen.
On Monday, Hachette announced that Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of the company, will publish Apropos of Nothing, Allen’s memoir, on April 7. “The book is a comprehensive account of his life, both personal and professional, and describes his work in films, theatre, television, nightclubs and print,” Grand Central wrote. “Allen also writes of his relationships with family, friends and the loves of his life.”
It remains unknown that if the memoir will address longstanding allegations by Dylan Farrow, Allen’s daughter, that he molested her in 1992 when she was 7 years old. Allen has long denied the allegations, though as the #MeToo movement has gained steam and lent new visibility to Farrow’s account of the abuse, Allen’s career in the US has really bottomed out. Allen sued Amazon Studios for $68 million over Amazon’s cancellation of a multi-year production and distribution deal, while Allen’s latest film, A Rainy Day in New York, was distributed only in Europe, not in the United States.
Ronan Farrow insists that Hachette never asked his sister to verify her account of events. He stated that he could no longer work with Hachette “in good conscience,” saying that Hachette’s conduct “shows a lack of ethics and compassion for victims of sexual abuse.”
Dylan Farrow responded on Twitter. She said, “For the record, I was never contacted by any fact checkers to verify the information in this ‘memoir,’” and kept connecting Allen’s exemption from the fact-checking process.
The Farrows emphasize the dirty little secret of nonfiction publishing: that books are rarely fact-checked, and when they are, it’s often at the author’s expense. Accuracy scandals have plagued the publishing industry for many years, with some of the more memorable dust-ups surrounding authors including James Frey, Jill Abramson, and Naomi Wolf. Unlike legacy media publications, publishing houses with little institutional fact-checking resources, and they regularly decline to invest in hiring fact checkers, and to build time for a thorough fact check into the production process for a book.
5. Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron now can face her experience of sexual harassment at the start of her acting career, saying she found it frustrating that she “didn’t do all of those things that we so want to believe we’ll do in those situations”.
Theron outlined her own harassment, which happened in 1994 and involved a “very famous director” whose house she visited on a Saturday night for an audition. She says he “wore silk pajamas and gave me a drink and touched my knee”. “I was just starting out; I said to myself as I was driving there at 9pm … ‘Maybe that’s how they do it in the movie industry?”
“You don’t know what to do … if you haven’t experienced it, it’s very difficult to wrap your head around. I wasn’t even fully believed this was sexual harassment until later in my career.
“I put a lot of blame on myself … that I didn’t say all the right things, and that I didn’t tell him to take a hike, and that I didn’t do all of those things that we so want to believe we’ll do in those situations.”
Theron apologized to the director. “I remember saying, ‘I’m sorry that I have to go,’ because I was trying to remove myself from the room.” 8 years later, the same director offered her an acting job. While she had planned to reject the offer, she decided to talk to him “because I thought I had the opportunity to face him, I was going to have the moment I didn’t have with him”. Theron brought up the incident but he denied to talk about it. “He just kept on his conversation, and just didn’t want to address it. At that time, I realized that it wasn’t his first time and that he had been doing this before and that other women had called him out. He just kept talking over it.
“It was the moment I hated. There was no reward in it … I’ve heard these many times in hearing other women’s stories, that is sexual harassment. You never get that moment where you feel like the tables are reversed.
The actor also detailed the moment when she was 15, her mother killed her alcoholic father. She recalls, “My mom and I were in my bedroom leaning against the door, because he was trying to push through the door. Both of us were leaning against the door from the inside to have him not be able to open it. He just shot through the door 3 times. It is a really miracle that None of those bullets hit us. But in self-defense, she stopped the threat.” Her mother, Gerda Maritz, shot her husband with a handgun, as the killing was ruled an act of self defence, so she was not charged.