Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for raping a woman and sexually assaulting another.
The wheelchair-bound 67-year-old appeared unrepentant as the sentence was handed down in a Manhattan criminal court by Justice James Burke on Thursday morning (Australian time).
It comes less than a month after Weinstein was found guilty of committing a first-degree criminal sexual act against production assistant Miriam Haley and of the third-degree rape of former aspiring actress Jessica Mann.
Before sentencing, the former movie producer pleaded with the court for a light prison sentence, saying he was going through “hell on earth” and was “really trying to be a better person”.
Weinstein, who will have to register as a sex offender, also said he felt “remorse for all of the men who are going through this fight” and that he was worried for the “thousands of men” being denied due process in the Me Too era.
In a rambling statement, he said he was “confused” and that he believed he had a “serious friendship” with Ms Mann and Ms Haleyi – the two women he was convicted of sex crimes against.
Weinstein had repeatedly maintained his innocence, saying any sexual encounters were consensual.
He originally faced the possibility of a maximum sentence of 29 years in prison after six women testified against him. That’s not to discount the more than 100 women, including famous actors, who accused him of sexual misconduct and rape stretching back decades.
In an emotional statement in court, Ms Haleyi spoke of the trauma she had endured since the attack in 2006.
“It scared me deeply, mentally and emotionally, perhaps irreparably, perhaps forever,” she said.
Ms Mann also addressed the court about the 2013 incident.
“I want to remind you I told Harvey, ‘no,'” she said.
“I am forced to carry that experience until I die.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance told reporters afterward that the judge sent a message that “this type behaviour is something that any potential offender is going to have to consider”.
“The judge took it seriously, which is exactly how we think he should have. And we’re grateful.”
Prosecutors in court filings last week said the sentence should reflect not only the crimes of which Weinstein was convicted but a “lifetime of abuse towards others”.
In a statement after the proceedings, the group Silence Breakers, which speaks out against sexual assault and harassment and includes Weinstein accusers, said Weinstein’s “legacy will always be that he’s a convicted rapist”.
“He is going to jail – but no amount of jail time will repair the lives he ruined, the careers he destroyed, or the damage he has caused.”
Last week, prosecutors listed more than a dozen accusations going back to 1978, when they said Weinstein sexually assaulted an employee of his Buffalo, New York-based music company in a hotel room.
Unsealed court documents included an email to Weinstein from his estranged brother, Bob Weinstein, telling him he belonged in hell.
“U deserve a lifetime achievement award,” Bob Weinstein wrote in the November 2017 message, “for the sheer savagery and immorality and inhumaneness, for the acts u have perpetrated”.