By Greg_Maggie Rivera
On February 23, 2023, disgraced former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to an additional 16 years in prison on charges of rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles. Weinstein, already serving a 23-year prison sentence in New York, spoke in court before the ruling and continued denying any wrongdoing, calling the case a “setup.” Weinstein’s attorneys asked the judge for a concurrent sentence due to his age and health. The sentencing was the second for Weinstein on sexual assault charges since reporting by The New York Times and The New Yorker in 2017 revealed his alleged history of sexual abuse, harassment, and secret settlements as he used his influence as a Hollywood power broker to take advantage of young women. Weinstein was convicted in December on charges of rape, sexual penetration by a foreign object, and forcible oral copulation after a model and actress testified he assaulted her in a Beverly Hills hotel room in February 2013.
Two thousand miles away, in a federal courtroom in Chicago, R&B singer R. Kelly was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Kelly received his second lengthy sentence in a year, as he was already serving a 30-year prison term for his 2021 conviction on racketeering and sex trafficking charges in a New York federal court. Prosecutors indicted Kelly on child pornography charges for allegedly videotaping himself having sex with an unidentified underage girl. However, the jury acquitted him in 2008. Despite the allegations, Kelly was one of the most successful R&B artists of the 1990s and 2000s, known for his hit songs “Bump N’ Grind,” “Ignition (Remix),” and “I Believe I Can Fly,” which won him three Grammy Awards. Last September, the federal trial in Chicago was based on allegations from five minors that prosecutors allege were abused by Kelly in the late 1990s. Kelly’s conviction included three counts of producing videos depicting sexual conduct with one of the minors. He received acquittals on seven other counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Weinstein’s downfall ignited the #metoo movement. It paved the way for numerous women and men to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape against influential figures in media and entertainment, inspiring a wave of public reckoning with stars such as R. Kelly, Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and others.