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Harvey Weinstein's rape conviction overturned on appeal in New York

Photo: Etienne Laurent Getty Images via Agence France-Presse Harvey Weinstein, during an appearance in a Los Angeles court, October 4, 2022

Michael Sisak – Associated Press in New York

Posted at 9:36 a.m. Updated at 6:08 p.m.

  • United States

New York State's highest court on Thursday overturned Harvey Weinstein's 2020 rape conviction, ruling that the judge in the historic #MeToo trial had prejudiced the former movie mogul by making inappropriate decisions, including allowing the women to testify about allegations that were not part of the case.

“We conclude that the trial court erroneously admitted testimony of alleged, uncharged, prior sexual acts against persons other than the complainants of the underlying crimes,” the court's four-to-three decision said. “The remedy for these egregious errors is a new trial. »

State Court of Appeals ruling reopens painful chapter in U.S. reckoning with sexual misconduct by public figures influential ― an era that began in 2017 with a flood of allegations against Weinstein. The court ordered a new trial. His accusers could once again be forced to relive their traumas on the witness stand.

The majority of the court stated that “it is an abuse of the judge's discretion to allow unverified allegations of mere bad behavior that destroy the character of a defendant but shed no light on his credibility in relation to the criminal charges against him.”

In a scathing dissent, Justice Madeline Singas wrote that the majority “conceals the facts to conform to a narrative “he said/she said,” and said the appeals court was continuing a “disturbing trend of overturning juries’ guilty verdicts in cases involving sexual violence.” »

“The majority’s determination perpetuates outdated notions of sexual violence and allows predators to escape accountability,” Judge Singas ruled.< /p>

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The 72-year-old has been serving a 23-year sentence in a New York prison since his conviction for criminal sexual conduct for forcibly performing cunnilingus on a television and film production assistant in 2006 , and third-degree rape for assaulting an aspiring actress in 2013.

He will remain in prison, as he was convicted in Los Angeles in 2022 of another rape and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Weinstein was acquitted in Los Angeles of charges relating to one of the women who testified in New York.

“Huge victory”

Weinstein's lawyer, Arthur Aidala, said immediately after the ruling: “We have all worked very hard and this is a huge victory for all of the criminal defendants of New York State. »

For his part, Me Douglas H. Wigdor, who represented eight accusers of Harvey Weinstein, including two witnesses, at the New York criminal trial, described the decision of “major step backwards to hold accountable those responsible for acts of sexual violence”.

For his part, Me Douglas H. Wigdor, who represented eight of Harvey Weinstein's accusers, including two witnesses, at the New York criminal trial, described the decision as “a major step backwards in holding those responsible for acts accountable of sexual violence.”

Weinstein's lawyers argued that Judge James Burke's rulings in favor of the prosecution turned the trial into a “1-800- GET-HARVEY.”

The overturning of Weinstein's conviction is the second major setback for the #MeToo movement in the past two years, after the Supreme Court of The United States has refused to hear an appeal of a Pennsylvania court's decision to overturn comedian Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction.

Weinstein's conviction remained pending for more than four years, hailed by activists and advocates as a milestone but just as quickly dissected by his lawyers and, later, by the appeals court when it heard arguments on the issue in February.

Allegations against Weinstein, the once-powerful and feared studio chief behind Oscar-winning films like “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare and Juliet ”, marked the start of the #MeToo movement. Dozens of women have come forward to accuse Weinstein, including famous actresses such as Ashley Judd and Uma Thurman.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116