Last week, movie producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison after being convicted of two sex offenses. The judge could have sentenced Weinstein to as little as five years but heeded the prosecution’s argument that there were multiple complaining witnesses in addition to those who testified against him at trial.
“Although this is a first conviction, it is not a first offense,” said the judge. “There is evidence before me of other incidents of sexual assault involving a number of women, all of which are legitimate considerations for sentence.”
Weinstein is reportedly in poor health and is already nearly 68 years old. With a 23-year sentence, there is a good chance he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Shortly after being transferred to Rikers island after the sentencing, Weinstein complained of chest pain and was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center for evaluation. He was kept for a week before being returned to Rikers Island on Monday.
Weinstein awaits word on what New York prison he will be housed in as he serves his sentence. He is also facing sex crime charges in California, and it is unclear when and if he will be extradited to face those charges.
Survivors of sex crimes can also sue for damages
Criminal prosecution is one way to deal with a sex offense, but it is a case between prosecutors and the defendant. Sexual assault survivors only have limited power over what happens in a criminal trial. Sometimes, prosecutors fail to bring charges at all or settle for a sentence that is less than what the survivor would have hoped for.
There is another option. In addition to any criminal charges brought by the state, sexual assault survivors can also bring a lawsuit for damages. And, thanks to New York’s new Child Victims Act, many people who survived sexual abuse as a child can now bring suit against their abusers, even if the statute of limitations had previously passed.
Whether you were victimized as a child or an adult, you have the right to take your abuser to court and speak out against what was done to you. Contact an experienced attorney who can protect your rights and interests during the case.