Harvey Weinstein arrives at court in wheelchair ahead of sentencing

By Michael R Sisak and Tom Hays, Associated Press

Harvey Weinstein has arrived at court in a wheelchair to be sentenced following his conviction for rape and sexual assault.

Weinstein faces at least five years and up to 29 years behind bars after being convicted of raping an aspiring actress in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006.

A second criminal case is pending in California.

Onlookers applauded the two women whom Weinstein was convicted of assaulting as they arrived in court in New York, where they were expected to speak.

Harvey Weinstein leaves court in February (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Weinstein, who has maintained that any sexual activity was consensual, will also have a chance to give his account.

He opted not to give evidence at his trial.

Four other women who gave evidence against him, including Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, sat side-by-side in the courtroom audience but will not be permitted to speak at his sentencing under state law.

The executive behind such Oscar-winning films as Shakespeare In Love and Pulp Fiction became Exhibit A for the #MeToo movement after years of whispers about his alleged behaviour burst into public view in The New York Times and The New Yorker in 2017.

More than 90 women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek and Uma Thurman, eventually came forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The case energised the #MeToo campaign of speaking up about sexual assault and holding perpetrators accountable.

Weinstein was convicted on two counts: criminal sex act for the 2006 assault and rape in the third degree for the 2013 attack.

The criminal sex act count carries a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 25 years in prison, while the third-degree rape count carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison.

Weinstein was acquitted of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault stemming from Ms Sciorra’s allegations of a mid-1990s rape.

Newly unsealed documents show the 67-year-old former film producer sought help from billionaires Jeff Bezos and Michael Bloomberg as sexual misconduct allegations against him piled up in October 2017, and that he considered issuing a statement at the time claiming that he was suicidal.

There is no evidence to suggest either man responded.

Weinstein’s lawyers are seeking the minimum sentence of five years in prison because of his age and frail health.

Weinstein, who turns 68 next week, used a walker throughout the trial following recent back surgeries.

After his February 24 conviction, he split time between a hospital and a jail infirmary unit, and had a stent inserted last week to unblock an artery.

“Given his age and specific medical risk factors, any additional term of imprisonment above the mandatory minimum – although the grave reality is that Mr Weinstein may not even outlive that term – is likely to constitute a de facto life sentence,” Weinstein’s lawyers wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed on Monday.

After sentencing, he will be transferred to the state prison system.