Harvey Weinstein is going to prison. The disgraced media mogul whose alleged abuse of multiple women kicked off the current phase of the Me Too movement was sentenced on Wednesday to 23 years in prison after his conviction on February 24 on two charges: a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree.
Though dozens of women came forward to accuse the 67-year-old Weinstein of rape or assault, his conviction was based on the testimony of just two: Jessica Mann, who said Weinstein raped her in 2013, and Miriam Haley, who said he forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006. The charges Weinstein was convicted on carried a maximum sentence of 29 years in prison; he was acquitted on one charge of rape in the first degree and two counts of predatory sexual assault, which had the possibility of a life sentence.
Weinstein could have been sentenced to as little as five years in prison, but in a statement ahead of sentencing, Mann asked that he receive the maximum. “I’m not here to give any more power over to the man who stole my body,” she said. Haley, meanwhile, said she hoped Weinstein’s sentence would be long enough for him to acknowledge “what he’s done and to be truly sorry.” She added that if he had not been convicted, she was sure he would have attacked other women, “again and again and again.” In the end, Weinstein’s 23-year sentence is just six years under the maximum.
Weinstein addressed the court in a long and rambling speech in which he appeared to suggest that he thought his relationships with his victims were consensual. He also appeared to express his solidarity with the other men who have been accused of sexual misconduct in the wake of the Me Too movement. “We may have different truths, but I have remorse for all of you and for all the men going through this crisis,” he said.
Activists are taking Weinstein’s sentencing as a victory for the movement, but they add that there is still work to do. “I am grateful to the Silence Breakers who bravely came forward and risked so much to stop Harvey Weinstein,” said the National Women’s Law Center Fatima Goss Graves in a statement. “But Weinstein’s conviction and incarceration won’t give the Silence Breakers their jobs or careers back or repair the years of trauma they’ve endured. We must turn our attention to strengthening our laws to protect all workers from sexual harassment and abuse. It’s time to extend the legal time periods for challenging violence, confine the broad reach of non-disclosure agreements, and support workers who blow the whistle on abuse.”
Weinstein is the first high-profile man to be convicted in this phase of the Me Too movement, and the verdict is significant for his accusers as well as for how it could change the way the justice system handles accusations of sexual assault and rape. Weinstein’s attorneys plan to appeal the verdict, per CNBC; Weinstein still faces pending criminal charges of rape and sexual battery in Los Angeles.
For more on the Weinstein case and its significance to the Me Too movement, read Vox’s previous coverage.