Harvey Weinstein Conviction Overturned In Shocking Legal Twist

By TeeJay Small | Published

harvey weinstein

According to a report in the New York Times, an appeals court has overturned the landmark sexual assault conviction Harvey Weinstein received in 2020. Weinstein was one of the key figures targeted by the #MeToo movement, as it was discovered the powerful film producer had allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted dozens of women over the course of many years, including actresses, employees, and other industry insiders. Over 80 women eventually came forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual impropriety, ranging from inappropriate comments to sexual assault.

The Convictions

harvey weinstein

Harvey Weinstein was convicted of committing rape in the third degree by a New York court in 2020, carrying a sentence of 23 years in prison. Likewise, Weinstein was convicted in a California court in 2022 of forcibly performing oral sex on a Weinstein Company production assistant, compounding a 16 year sentence on his already decades-long sentence. Now, Weinstein’s lawyers have successfully thrown out the New York ruling, with a state Court of Appeals reaching a controversial 4-3 decision.

Weinstein’s Lawyers’ Arguments

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Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers have argued since the 2020 conviction was handed down that the decision was fraudulent on the grounds that multiple women were given the witness stand to outline their own alleged abuses, and that the testimony was inadmissible because Weinstein had never been charged with any of the alleged crimes. Further, they argued the damage to the case’s integrity was made worse when the prosecution was allowed to cross examine Weinstein about those testimonies. The judicial majority in the Court of Appeals agreed with Weinstein’s lawyers.

A Major Step Back

harvey weinstein

One lawyer, Douglas H. Wigdor, referred to this ruling as a “major step back,” while correctly pointing out that evidence of uncharged crimes are frequently used to establish patterns of behavior in a court of law, and that the jury was acutely aware of the relevance these testimonies held at the time of the trial. Wigdor represented two women who appeared as witnesses in the New York trial, and is one of several officers of the court demanding a new trial in the matter.

Echoes Of Cosby

bill cosby

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has already expressed an intention to try Weinstein again, though doing so will force the producer’s alleged victims to retell their painful stories on the world stage once more. Some have referred to Harvey Weinstein’s case being overturned as the latest in a dystopian pattern of behavior which invalidates victims of sexual assault at the judicial level, especially after Bill Cosby had his sexual assault conviction overturned by a Pennsylvania court.

He’s Still Behind Bars

Harvey Weinstein will not go free after this decision, as he still has to serve his time in California for his 2022 conviction. Of course, Weinstein’s lawyers are already working round the clock to have that ruling thrown out as well. For now, the future of the maligned mogul seems unclear, though his status as one of the worst #MeToo offenders makes him something of a figurehead for the violation of women’s autonomy.

Source: The New York Times