By Arré Bench Mar. 12, 2020
Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to prison for 23 years for rape and criminal sexual assault. You’d think the barrage of accusations which led to a global #MeToo movement, would push a man to reflect upon his actions. However, his final statement portrays him as a man living in denial.
“There are so many people, thousands of people who could say great things about me,” said Harvey Weinstein. Now this is not an old remark from the pre-MeToo era that we’ve dug out from our archives. This is something that the media mogul said just minutes before his sentencing on March 11.
On Wednesday, Weinstein spoke in a New York courtroom for about 20 minutes before he was sentenced to prison for 23 years – 20 years for criminal sexual assault and three years for rape. On February 24, he was found guilty of rape and sexual abuse.
You’d think the barrage of accusations which led to a global #MeToo movement would push a man to reflect upon his actions. Though Weinstein did say he had “great remorse” for all the women who testified against him, his final statement portrays him as a man living in denial.
“We are going through this crisis right now in our country. I was the first example, and now there are many men who have been accused of abuse, something I think none of us understood,” he told a courtroom in which his accusers were also present.
At one point, defence lawyer Arthur Aidala tried to stop Harvey Weinstein, but he wouldn’t budge.
Even after his victims Miriam Haleyi and Jessica Mann had given statements in the morning proceedings, Weinstein went on to say that he believed their relationships were “serious friendships”. He addressed Haleyi directly as “Mimi” and went on to say he remembered fond letters and years that were “filled with don’t go on the plane Harv”. He had forced Haleyi to have oral sex with him and it accounted for 20 years of his sentencing.
The rant was nothing short of bizarre. With zero self-awareness, Weinstein continued, “I had a wonderful time with these people. I’m totally confused, men are confused about all of this issue.” Referring to the #MeToo movement, he said, “I think about the thousands of men and women who are losing due process, and I’m worried about this country.”
At one point, defence lawyer Arthur Aidala tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t budge. He confessed that he went to “extraordinary lengths to hide his extramarital affairs” and regretted that, and that he has had no communication with his children since The New York Times broke the news about his sexual misconduct.
You’d think the barrage of accusations which led to a global #MeToo movement would push a man to reflect upon his actions.
In what seemed like a desperate attempt to gain sympathy (but also a move straight outta the sexual predator’s playbook), he spoke about his charitable work post 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy and the schools that he raised money for. After painting a picture of himself as a powerless victim, Weinstein concluded saying, “I feel remorse for this situation. I feel it deep in my heart. I’m really trying to be a better person.”
Weinstein’s statement is ludicrous, to put it mildly. It gives us the picture of a man who actually has little remorse and who is convinced that it was he who was wronged and victimised by a woke new world. Even while the sentencing should be celebrated – Weinstein received 23 of the 29 years of maximum punishment he could get – it’s a reminder to women all over the world that the fight is far from over.
Yet, the sentencing is historic in many ways. Even as many men accused by multiple waves of #MeToo have resumed lives like nothing happened, the verdict offers some hope that there are consequences to your actions. And no matter how mighty and powerful you might be, you are not untouchable.