The two women whom Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexually assaulting made emotional statements at his sentencing Wednesday, urging a Manhattan Supreme Court judge to give the disgraced movie mogul the maximum sentence.
“He violated my trust, my body, and my basic right to reject his sexual advances. When he attacked me that evening, it scarred me emotionally and physically. It diminished my confidence and faith in people and my confidence and faith in myself,” former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haleyi told the court.
Weinstein, 67, was convicted in February of sexually assaulting Haleyi in 2006 and raping former actress Jessica Mann. Minutes after they read their victim impact statements to the court, Weinstein was handed a stiff sentence of 23 years behind bars.
“The day my uncontrollable screams were heard from the witness room was the day my full voice came back into my power,” Mann told Judge James Burke. “Those were the screams that wanted to come out while Harvey Weinstein was raping me.”
“I have found my voice and hope for a future where monsters no longer hide in our closet,” she added.
All six women who testified at Weinstein’s trial sat in the front row of the packed Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday. The group, who did not meet until after Weinstein’s conviction, all walked in the courthouse together, led by Mann.
Actress Rosie Perez, who also testified at the trial, sat one row behind them and chatted with her fellow witnesses before Weinstein entered about 30 minutes later in a wheelchair. He briefly glanced at his accusers before sitting with his legal team.
“Gratitude to all the silence breakers, especially Rose [McGowan], and all survivors of [W]einstein—to the brave women who testified,” actress and Weinstein accuser Rosanna Arquette tweeted after he was sentenced.
Mann and Haleyi are among the half a dozen women who testified against the movie mogul at his trial—most of them claiming the Oscar-winner lured them into isolated places by promising to discuss their careers. Once alone, he sexually assaulted them, sometimes justifying the act by complimenting them or insisting “this is how all actresses make it,” multiple women testified.
In a Friday sentencing memo, prosecutors argued that Weinstein deserves a substantial amount of time behind bars for the “lifetime of abuse toward others, sexual and otherwise.” Weinstein’s legal team asked Burke in a Monday night letter to give him five years behind bars—which they insisted is “a de facto life sentence” given the movie mogul’s health problems.
During her impact statement, Haleyi, 42, described to the court how her sexual assault had consequences on her career, dating life, and ability to trust others.
“I have been raped by Harvey Weinstein. I say rape because that is how I experienced it at the time,” Haleyi said, dressed in a black blazer. “I’m relieved he will now know he’s not above the law.”
Breaking down halfway through her statement, Haleyi said she is “not the perfect victim,” but a human being who is in the process of healing and grasping with the “fear and paranoia” she now lives with after coming forward with her allegations in 2017.
Mann—who accused Weinstein of assaulting her multiple times during their twisted relationship—stressed to the judge that her complicated case exemplifies the complexity of rape cases.
“This rape induced paralysis, which is a natural response,” she said, dressed in a brown sweater with the words “Give Me Love” emblazoned on it. “Harvey at that time had every advantage over me. Harvey did not see me as someone with equal rights.”
The former aspiring actress, telling the court that her rape was “preventable” and that life after the assault has been “a long exhausting form of survival,” said she wants to move forward in a new direction after the sentencing.
“I live in a body that has become unsafe. It is impossible to translate the magnitude of this experience to those who have not been violated internally,” Mann said after describing the horror of being completely immobile while Weinstein raped her “on his time, as slow as he wanted, while he pleasured himself inside my body.”
She vowed that if Weinstein is given the maximum sentence she would “spend every day getting better” and make Judge Burke “proud that the girl on the stand will become a woman who has found happiness and who is free.”
“It is time for people who rape other people to pay with their life and the life they took,” she said.
During the two women’s statements, Weinstein mostly stared straight ahead, shaking his head at least once and turning briefly to face Mann when she began to speak. Both women did not look at the movie mogul.
At trial, jurors heard from four other women whose allegations fall outside the statute of limitations: Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein violently raped her in her apartment in 1993 or 1994; Dawn Dunning, who said Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2004; Tarale Wulff, who was allegedly assaulted by the producer a year later; and Lauren Young, who was allegedly assaulted in Weinstein’s Beverly Hills hotel room days before the 2013 Oscars.
On Tuesday, Wulff wrote an open letter about her experience testifying, stating that while Weinstein “stole a part of my self-worth,” being able to testify, lean on other survivors, and surrounding herself with strong women helped her begin to heal. While Wulff was present at the Wednesday sentencing, under New York law she was not allowed to give a victim impact statement as a cooperating witness.
“Testifying was surreal. Mentally I was nervous and intimidated,” Wulff said outside the courthouse Wednesday, adding that her main goal was to be was “there to help Mimi and Jessica.”
“These feelings were unbearable to live with... When Judge Burke said 20, for the first time I can say I feel a sense of happiness, I guess,” she added.