A New York judge sentenced convicted rapist and disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein to 23 years in prison on Wednesday, nearly the maximum recommended sentence for the crimes he was convicted of last month.
The sentence — which means Weinstein, 67, would likely spend the rest of his life behind bars — was met with gasps in the courtroom, according to reporters present.
Outside the courthouse, onlookers cheered for the six women who testified in the case — Jessica Mann, Mimi Haleyi, Annabella Sciorra, Dawn Dunning, Lauren Young and Tarale Wulff — who sat together in the courtroom for Weinstein’s sentencing.
“He violated my trust, my body and my basic right to reject his sexual advances,” Haleyi said in the courtroom Wednesday. “I’m relieved he will now know he’s not above the law.”
Mann also addressed the courtroom, describing the “recurring nightmare” of Weinstein’s assault but expressing hope that his conviction and sentence represent a step forward.
“This was a known offender whose previous crimes were covered up in a paper trail. I am forced to carry that experience until I die. It is a recurring nightmare that I feel is just as real as when it happened,” she said. “I have found my voice and hope for a future where monsters no longer hide in our closet.”
Speaking to reporters after the sentencing, Wulff said, “the conversation must continue.”
“This isn’t a happy circumstance to be in that we’re all here for, but I feel joy with what Judge Burke decided,” she said. “I hope the sentence sends a clear message that times have changed and that more women need to speak out for themselves, and men and women need to speak out for others. We need to show self-love and empathy to overcome centuries of illogical thinking that has normalized the sexual mistreatment of women. This is hopefully just the beginning.”
A number of other Weinstein accusers applauded the sentence and thanked all of those who spoke out against him.
“I literally cried tears of amazement, gratitude that the justice system has worked on behalf of all of his victims today,” actor Mira Sorvino tweeted.
Actor Rosanna Arquette also thanked all of the women who spoke out, as well as the reporters who broke the story, including The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow and The New York Times.
Former actor Lucia Evans expressed gratitude to the women who testified “for putting our monster where he belongs.”
“I feel free,” she tweeted.
And former Weinstein employee Rowena Chiu tweeted simply: “WE DID IT!!”
In a statement, 24 of the at least 100 women who have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault — known as the “silence breakers” — said the sentence was a small measure of justice but that their fight will continue.
“Harvey 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,” the group of women, which includes Arquette and Chiu, said in a statement. “The New York trial has ended, but the Silence Breakers will persist in our crusade for cultural change, justice and to have our voices heard.”
The Time’s Up movement commended the bravery of the silence breakers and stressed the larger social change they have sparked since October 2017.
“The trauma of sexual assault and harassment is lifelong ― we can only hope that today’s sentence brings all of the survivors of Harvey Weinstein some measure of peace,” the organization’s president, Tina Tchen, said in a statement.
“We also hope that these women take pride in knowing the impact they have had on our culture at large. Whether by inspiring more survivors to come forward and seek help, changing how the justice system responds to sexual violence, or leading corporate boards to hold more CEOs accountable for toxic workplace culture, the social change catalyzed by these survivors has been nothing short of transformational.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.