LOS ANGELES - Former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was sentenced on Thursday to 16 years in prison for the rape of a woman in a Beverly Hills hotel room a decade ago.
The sentence was handed down by a Los Angeles court. Weinstein is already serving a 23-year sentence for his separate 2020 conviction in New York for sex crimes.
It increases the likelihood that the Academy Award-winning Shakespeare In Love producer, 70, will spend the remainder of his life in prison – though he is appealing in both cases.
In December, he was convicted by a Los Angeles jury of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation and sexual penetration by a foreign object of a European actress whose identity was not revealed.
The court heard explicit accounts of meetings between the previously influential movie producer and several young women who were attempting to find a foothold in Hollywood.
Prosecutors said Weinstein exploited and abused women for years, and long enjoyed impunity because of his then-powerful position in the industry.
The women would have risked losing their future Hollywood job prospects if they had publicly accused Weinstein at the time, prosecutors said.
Weinstein was ultimately convicted in the Los Angeles case of assaulting one woman, but acquitted of sexual battery involving a second.
The jury did not reach a verdict on charges relating to the alleged assaults of two other women, one of whom was identified by her lawyers as Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the now-wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Weinstein’s lawyers had filed a defence motion requesting either a new trial or a reduced verdict, alleging they were precluded from admitting important evidence about the rape victim – including Facebook messages with an alleged lover which the judge deemed irrelevant – and that their cross-examination was limited.
But Judge Lisa Lench denied the motion, and sentencing went ahead.
In New York last June, Weinstein lost his first appeal against his criminal verdict and sentence in the state’s intermediate appellate court.
But he has also further appealed that case to the higher New York Court of Appeals.
Weinstein’s behaviour had been the topic of rumours in entertainment circles for years, but his power player status in Hollywood ensured few were willing to publicly call him out.
Bombshell allegations broke against him in 2017, launching the #MeToo movement and paving the way for hundreds of women to fight back against sexual violence in the workplace.
Dozens of women have now accused Weinstein of predatory behaviour.
After his conviction in New York, a civil trial awarded US$17 million to dozens of other women who had accused the former movie magnate of abuse.
Earlier this month, the European actress who Weinstein was convicted of raping in Los Angeles also sued him for damages.
The civil case alleges sexual battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
“The conduct of Defendant Weinstein was despicable, and done with malice, oppression and fraud, thus justifying an award of punitive damages against him,” her lawsuit says. AFP