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Harvey Weinstein given 23-year jail term for rape and sexual assault

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Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein   -   Copyright  Seth Wenig/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Disgraced film director Harvey Weinstein has been given a 23-year prison sentence after being found guilty of rape and sexual assault.

Weinstein, 67, was once the most powerful man in Hollywood.

But he suffered a rapid fall from grace when dozens of women came forward to allege sexual misconduct in 2017.

It helped spark the hashtag #MeToo where women across the world came forward to share their experiences of sexual misconduct.

Weinstein has been accused of violating dozens of women.

In February, he was convicted for the rape of a woman in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and for forcibly performing oral sex on another woman at his apartment in 2006.

Before the judge announced the sentence on Wednesday, both women — a once-aspiring actress and a former TV and film production assistant — confronted their attacker again after their testimony helped seal his conviction.

"The day my screams were heard from the witness room was the day my voice came back to its full power," said the once-aspiring actress, who Weinstein was convicted of raping in 2013. She was referring to a moment during the trial when she left the witness stand in tears and was then heard screaming from an adjacent room.

"Rape is not just one moment of penetration. It is forever," she said.

Weinstein has always maintained that any sexual activity was consensual, said that he was "genuinely confused".

"Men are confused about this issue," he said, apparently speaking about women's consent.

Weinstein's lawyers pleaded for leniency because of his age and frail health, while prosecutors said Weinstein, once a Hollywood giant, deserved a harsh sentence that would account for allegations of wrongdoing dating to the 1970s.

They cited 16 examples that they said showed Weinstein "trapped women into his exclusive control" so he could sexually assault them, starting when he was working as a music producer in Buffalo in 1978.

Sarah Anne Masse, one of the women who broke the silence on Harvey Weinstein's pattern of sexual abuse and harassment, told Euronews she was "gleeful" when she heard of his sentencing.

"It's something many of us have been waiting for for decades. It's a huge triumph, justice was finally served in a measure that feels somewhat equitable to the crimes that he committed."

She described Weinstein as "obsene and obnoxious". "He harassed, raped, assaulted, 111 women, minimum, over the past 30 years."

Weinstein was sentenced a week before his 68th birthday, leading his lawyers to argued that the long prison term would effectively be a life sentence.

They sought a five-year sentence, the mandatory minimum on the more serious of the two charges he was found guilty of.

After using a walker throughout the trial, Weinstein arrived at the courthouse on Wednesday in a wheelchair.

More than 90 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, assault, or rape.

Weinstein was convicted on two counts: criminal sex act for the 2006 assault on the production assistant, for which he faced a minimum of five and a maximum of 25 years in prison, and rape in the third degree for a 2013 attack on another woman, which carried a maximum penalty of four years in prison.

He was acquitted of the more serious charges against him of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault.

According to his lawyer, after his conviction, Weinstein said: "I'm innocent. I'm innocent. I'm innocent. How could this happen in America?"

Weinstein's lawyers have said he would appeal the sentence.

Authorities in Los Angeles have also announced new, similar charges stemming from allegations against Weinstein there.

Weinstein was charged in California with raping a woman at a Los Angeles hotel on 18 February 2013, after pushing his way inside her room, and sexually assaulting a woman in a Beverly Hills hotel suite the next night.

In the California case, Weinstein could get up to 28 years in prison on charges of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery. Authorities have not said when he would go there to face those charges.

Three more sexual assault cases under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department and Beverly Hills' police could mean that he'll face additional charges. No details have been provided on these cases.

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