Weinstein arrives at court Jan 29 2020

Source: Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Harvey Weinstein arriving at court. January 29, 2020

The New York Court of Appeals has overturned Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction, finding that the judge at the trial prejudiced the producer with “egregious” improper rulings.

As reported by Associated Press, the court – the highest level of appeal available in New York state – came to a 4-3 decision.

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

The judgment continued, ”It is an abuse of judicial discretion to permit untested allegations of nothing more than bad behaviour that destroys a defendant’s character but sheds no light on their credibility as related to the criminal charges lodged against them.”

In her dissent judge Madeline Singas said that the majority was “whitewashing the facts to conform to a he-said/she-said narrative” and that the Court of Appeals was continuing a “disturbing trend of overturning juries’ guilty verdicts in cases involving sexual violence”.

Singas wrote, “The majority’s determination perpetuates outdated notions of sexual violence and allows predators to escape accountability.”

Speaking outside the Manhattan courthouse on Thursday morning, the former Hollywood mogul’s lawyer Arthur Aidala called the ruling “a great day for America”.

Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg will decide whether to prepare for a retrial in New York. His office is in the early stage of the hush-money criminal case against former US president Donald Trump.

Weinstein, 72, had begun a 23-year sentence in a New York prison following his conviction on charges of a criminal sex act for forcibly performing oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006 and rape in the third degree for an attack on an aspiring actress in 2013.

He will remain in prison having been convicted in Los Angeles in 2022 of another rape, for which he received a 16-year sentence. Weinstein was acquitted in Los Angeles on charges involving one of the women who testified in New York. The New York Times reported that Weinstein’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean said he is scheduled to appeal his California conviction on May 20.

Weinstein is currently incarcerated at the Mohawk Correctional Facility in New York, 100 miles northwest of Albany. Weinstein maintains his innocence and says any sexual activity was consensual.

Through the appeal, Weinstein’s lawyers sought a new trial for the criminal sexual act charge but argued that the rape charge could not be retried because the alleged conduct is outside the statute of limitations.

In a statement issued after the ruling, Anita Hill, chair and president of The Hollywood Commission, said: “Today’s decision reinforces what we already know through our survey of over 13,000 entertainment workers. We have seen a lack of progress in addressing the power imbalances that allow abuse to occur and that sexual assault continues to be a pervasive problem.

”Many survivors do not pursue justice because they believe nothing will be done,” Hill said. ”Today’s decision underscores the urgent need for systemic changes in our institutions – and redoubles our commitment to survivors to push for the policies and systems that will ensure accountability and bring about workplaces free from the behavior that drives the need for these systems in the first place.”