Arthur Aidala, one of the many lawyers for the man who on Wednesday suffered the biggest movie break of his career that ended in disgrace, had been feeling bad for days. "I can't say I'm optimistic," said Harvey Weinstein's legal representative. The ex-Hollywood mogul had been found guilty of two counts of rape and aggravated sexual assault in late February. Aidala was right.
In the spectrum of four to 29 years that the penal code in New York state provides for these acts, the maker of "Pulp Fiction" and other box office hits landed in the top third with 23 years in prison at the hands of Judge James Burke in the first major trial of the #MeToo era. If the verdict holds up on appeal, Weinstein would be 91 years old when he walks free.
Harvey Weinstein – this is how he reacted to the verdict
The 67-year-old received the judge's ruling with silent shock. He was "confused" by the allegations, he said during his surprise closing remarks, which included a brief apology to the victims sitting behind him. Weinstein appeared stricken. After the verdict, he had a stent inserted because of heart problems. In the prison "Rikers Island", where he was later transferred, he suffered head injuries in a fall.
The prosecution asked Judge Burke for a sentence with a "chilling effect". In a letter, prosecutors led by Joan Illuzzi had listed Weinstein's list of sins, alleging that he sexually harassed or abused more than 100 women. He used his powerful position in the film industry as a lure.
The sentence must take into account the "gravity of the acts" against Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann, as well as Weinstein's "complete lack of remorse," Illuzzi stressed. The two women said in a joint statement that they may have been "mentally and emotionally" damaged beyond repair. "I'm glad he's not out there anymore," said Jessica Mann.
Bob Weinstein wishes his brother "to hell"
Lawyers for the multimillionaire, who ordered other victims to pay $25 million in compensation in a civil settlement through his insurance companies, complained that the trial did not portray Weinstein fairly. His "remarkable achievements" should not be discounted. Her conclusion: even five years in prison was too much given the fragile health of her clients.
Burke ignored the argument and followed the prosecution, which called the sentence a "step toward late justice" – and a warning to other men who criminally cross lines in the tension between power and sexuality. That this was the case with Weinstein, a family member had already confirmed in 2017 in emails that only became public on Wednesday. Bob Weinstein wished his brother "to hell" in it.
Weinstein sought psychological help
To prepare psychologically for his time in prison, Weinstein hired Craig Rothfeld. Formerly a prisoner himself, the entrepreneur and his company "Drinnen/Drauben" (Inside/Outside) advises solvent convicts on how to survive behind bars. Rothfeld's prediction for the ex-filmmaker, who sought succor from prominent acquaintances such as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Apple boss Tim Cook: "It's going to be terrible."
With the verdict in New York, the Weinstein case is not over. In Los Angeles, he was also charged with rape and sexual assault. A trial date is still pending there.
MeToo debate – More on the topic
Over the course of the MeToo debate, countless women have spoken out about their experiences with violence and sexism. Natalia Worner also said that she "encountered sexism". Jurgen von der Lippe, on the other hand, made it clear what bothers him about the MeToo debate. (dpa/afp/les)