NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was in good spirits on Tuesday, as he accepted visitors while under police guard at a Manhattan hospital, his lawyer said, despite having been convicted a day earlier of sexual assault and rape.
Weinstein had been expected to move to New York City’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex following the verdict, but was admitted late Monday night to Bellevue Hospital a few miles away.
One of his lawyers, Arthur Aidala, told reporters after meeting with Weinstein that his 67-year-old client “looked like he was in good shape” but was “not a picture of health by any stretch of the imagination,” and doctors would decide when to release him.
“He was upbeat,” though “obviously he prefers being in his own house,” Aidala said.
Media reports said Weinstein had experienced chest pain or heart palpitations before being admitted to Bellevue, a public hospital.
Aidala said Weinstein was “somewhat flabbergasted by the verdict” and “cautiously optimistic” about his eventual appeal. “I almost feel emboldened by Mr. Weinstein’s spirits and his desire to continue to fight these charges,” Aidala added.
Weinstein was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013.
Jurors acquitted Weinstein on the two top charges, predatory sexual assault, which carried a maximum life sentence.
Those counts required jurors to consider accusations by the actress Annabella Sciorra, who testified that Weinstein raped her in the early 1990s.
The actress Ellen Barkin, a friend of Sciorra, tweeted on Tuesday: “Convicted rapist harvey weinstein is still not in jail. He is in a private suite in Bellevue hospital. This is not what the jury had in mind.”
MILESTONE FOR #METOO
Weinstein’s guilty verdict was a milestone for the #MeToo movement, which was fueled by his case starting in late 2017.
The movement inspired women to accuse hundreds of powerful men – in entertainment, business, media, politics and other fields – of sexual misconduct.
Weinstein faces up to 29 years in prison, and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 11.
Aidala said he may seek an earlier sentencing date so Weinstein can appeal sooner. New York law requires a defendant to be sentenced first, he said.
He quoted Weinstein as saying after the verdict: “I’m innocent. I’m innocent. How can this happen in America?”
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. He has denied the accusations, and said any sexual encounters were consensual.
Weinstein was a key force behind acclaimed films such as “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” which both won Oscars for best picture.
He had been free on bail during the trial, and on Monday morning ate breakfast with his lawyers at an upscale hotel.
Weinstein, however, lost that freedom when the trial judge, Justice James Burke of state Supreme Court in Manhattan, ordered he be jailed following the conviction. Court officers led him away in handcuffs.
Aidala said Weinstein was not being handcuffed at Bellevue.
Weinstein was admitted to a unit that provides medical care for inmates.
A spokesman said earlier on Tuesday that Weinstein suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure.
During the trial, the former producer appeared frail and used a walker.
The Rikers Island jail complex, whose main building went up in 1932, has long been plagued by violence and neglect. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed in 2017 to close it within a decade.
Jail officials could place Weinstein in a private or semi-private cell to help ensure his safety.
Weinstein also faces several felony charges in Los Angeles in connection with his alleged sexual assaults against two women in 2013.
His former film studio, Weinstein Co, filed for bankruptcy in March 2018 and is being liquidated.
Reporting by Gabriella Borter, Maria Caspani, Karen Freifeld, Brendan Pierson and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Grant McCool and Jonathan Oatis