Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein begged a Los Angeles judge for “mercy” as he was sentenced to 16 years in prison for rape and sexual assault.
The movie mogul, 70, said he “did not deserve” to spend the rest of his life behind bars and continued to insist that the allegations against him were “a set-up”.
Weinstein was found guilty of rape and two other sexual misconduct charges involving a woman known as Jane Doe One after a trial in December.
The woman said the incident happened after Weinstein appeared uninvited at her hotel room during a Los Angeles film festival in 2013.
At the hearing on Thursday, the court heard an emotional victim impact statement from Jane Doe One, who said Weinstein’s “selfish and disgusting” actions had “broken me into a million pieces”.
Before receiving his sentence, the former producer maintained his innocence and claimed he did not know the woman, who remained anonymous.
“Your Honour … I maintain that I am innocent,” he told judge Lisa Lench in front of the packed courtroom.
“I never raped or sexually assaulted Jane Doe One. I don’t know that woman and she doesn’t know me.”
He continued: “This is a made-up story. With all due respect, Jane Doe One is an actress … Jane Doe One can turn on the tears.
“Please don’t sentence me to life in prison, I don’t deserve it. I beg your mercy.”
The former producer was wheeled into court wearing a grey Los Angeles County jail uniform and remained seated as he addressed the court.
Throughout the hearing he kept his eyes mostly forward, but stared at members of the media as they entered the courtroom.
In her statement, Jane Doe One thanked judge Lench for allowing her to speak and said following her “brutal” attack by Weinstein, she had become “invisible to myself and the world”.
“I have been carrying this weight for 12 months,” she said.
“Before that night I was a very happy and confident woman. I valued myself and the relationship I had with God. I was excited about my future.
“Everything changed after the defendant brutally assaulted me. I became invisible to myself and to the world … I lost my identity.
“It has broken me into a million pieces … there is no prison sentence long enough to undo the damage.”
The woman asked Judge Lench to pass down a strict sentence on Weinstein to restore faith in the justice system to other victims and survivors of abuse.
“Your Honour, my life matters. I matter,” she said, becoming visibly and audibly emotional during her statement.
Jane Doe One continued to cry openly while Weinstein gave his remarks.
Thursday’s sentencing was previously delayed from January 9, to allow for a motion for a retrial to be put forward by Weinstein’s legal team.
Shortly before passing sentence, judge Lench dismissed the motion, following arguments by his other lawyer Alan Jackson, saying: “I respect your position, Mr Jackson, but I just disagree with it.”
During the two-month trial, which began in October last year, the court heard how Weinstein had used his influence to organise private meetings with women, where he attacked them.
He previously pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of rape and sexual assault involving a total of five women in Los Angeles.
After the December trial, the jury was unable to reach a decision on several counts, notably on charges involving Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California governor Gavin Newsom.
The jury was also unable to reach verdicts on the allegations of another woman. A mistrial was declared on those counts.
Weinstein was acquitted of a sexual battery allegation made by another woman.
The former film producer is already serving a 23-year sentence for a different rape and sexual assault conviction in New York, which is under appeal.
A hearing on the possible retrial is scheduled there for next month, though it is not yet clear where Weinstein will serve his time while these issues are decided.
He will be eligible for parole in New York in 2039.
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