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Weinstein Sentenced To 23 Years

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to serve 23 years in jail. Weinstein last month was convicted of raping a woman in a New York City hotel in 2013 and sexually assaulting another woman in 2006. Joining us now to talk about this, Alyssa Rosenberg from the Washington Post. She's been covering this story. Thanks for being here.

ALYSSA ROSENBERG: Thanks for having me.

GREENE: So what can you tell us about this sentence?

ROSENBERG: So it's on the higher end of what was available. He was expected to face between five and 29 years. And I think it's genuinely surprising to some of us watching that, first, that he was convicted at all and, second, that they handed down a sentence that was on the upper end of that possible range. It's heartening, I think, for those of us who are concerned about seeing rape cases make it to trial be taken seriously by juries and to see that juries can process sort of complicated stories, complicated relationships between alleged rapists and their victims.

But I think for those of us who are concerned about the criminal justice system, these long sentences, even for people who are - you know, have committed really heinous acts, are - they're a complicated thing. And so this is the place where I think the very important imperative to the #MeToo movement sometimes collide with a serious conversation about criminal justice reform that we're having in the United States.

GREENE: Well, both women that Weinstein was convicted of assaulting spoke before the sentence was read. Can you tell us what we heard from them?

ROSENBERG: I mean, one of the things that Miriam Haley said that I thought was really important is that this case sets a precedent. She said if Harvey Weinstein had not been convicted by this jury, it would have happened again and again. I'm relieved to know - I'm relieved he will now know that he's not above the law. I'm relieved there are women out there who are safer because he's not out there. And I think the precedent here was incredibly important.

Weinstein was someone who acted with impunity not just towards women for years but towards all sorts of people in Hollywood. He was known to be incredibly ill-tempered, violent - and not just sexually violent. And so - but people in the entertainment industry believed that he was just fundamentally unstoppable. And to see that someone of his stature, who has been alleged of committing just the sheer number of crimes that he is alleged to have commit - to see someone like that finally be convicted, I think, suggests that no one is above prosecution, no one is above conviction. And that's an incredibly important landmark.

GREENE: What is next for his legal team? I mean, can he still appeal the verdict, appeal the sentence?

ROSENBERG: Yes, but he's also facing charges in California. And so they're going to be fairly busy handling allegations against him. So I think this will proceed on multiple fronts.

GREENE: So you see this is a real defining moment in the #MeToo movement.

ROSENBERG: I hope so. I think that any establishment of precedent is incredibly vital, right? I mean, the fact that prosecutors were finally willing to bring charges against someone of Weinstein's stature; the jury was able to understand that rape victims sometimes have ongoing relationships with the people who have attacked them. But the real test for this will come when we see whether this is a precedent that is applied over and over again and whether more than one jury's understanding of these dynamics have shifted.

GREENE: Just restating the news here - former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to serve 23 years in jail; speaking about that with Alyssa Rosenberg from The Washington Post. Alyssa, thank you so much.

ROSENBERG: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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