Harvey Weinstein Appeals Sexual Assault Convinction in New York

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Jon Blistein
·3 min read
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Harvey Weinstein has appealed his 2020 conviction on two felony sex crimes, The New York Times reports.

The appeal, which was filed in New York State Supreme Court, is centered primarily on the argument that testimony from some of Weinstein’s accusers should not have been allowed. Along with testimony from the two victims whose allegations prompted the trial, Mimi Haleyi and Jessica Mann, the jury heard from four women — Annabella Sciorra, Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff, and Lauren Young — who served as the prosecution’s “prior bad acts” witnesses and detailed Weinstein’s alleged pattern of sexual assault.

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Weinstein’s attorneys argued that testimony from Dunning, Wulff, and Young unfairly drew the focus away from the specific charges he faced, and instead highlighted accusations for which Weinstein was not on trial. The appeal also took issue with Sciorra’s testimony that Weinstein raped her in the early Nineties, although the jury ultimately found Weinstein not guilty on the two counts of predatory sexual assault that Sciorra’s testimony was meant to bolster.

“Simply put, the prosecution tried Weinstein’s character, not his conduct,” the appeal reads. (Arthur Aidala, a lawyer for Weinstein, did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment. Danny Frost, a spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, said, “We will respond in our brief to the court.”)

Douglas Wigdor, an attorney who represents Wulff and six other Weinstein accusers (but did not participate in this trial), issued a statement as well, saying, “Harvey Weinstein’s criminal appeal is a desperate attempt to undo a fair trial overseen by Judge Burke and the findings of a well-reasoned and thoughtful jury. We are confident the appeal will not alter his conviction and sentence.”

Along with the “prior bad acts” testimony, per The Wall Street Journal, the appeal argued that one juror was biased to Weinstein and misled lawyers during jury selection when she denied her autobiographical book detailed relationships between young women and “predatory older men.” Weinstein’s lawyers also claimed the judge unfairly forbade them from calling witnesses to rebut some of the prosecution’s witnesses: These include a witness who could’ve countered testimony from a psychiatrist who said women don’t falsely report rapes and that their memories of such attacks don’t fade; and a New York City police detective who’d been involved in a Weinstein investigation and interviewed a woman who may have lied about being sexually assaulted by Weinstein.

Weinstein was found guilty on two of the five charges he faced in New York and was found not guilty of the most severe one of predatory sexual assault, which would’ve established a pattern of predatory behavior. Still, Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

In January, nearly 40 women who have accused Weinstein of sexual assault agreed to a $17 million settlement with the bankruptcy court overseeing a class-action lawsuit filed against him. Weinstein also faces multiple charges of sexual assault and rape in Los Angeles, although it’s unclear when that trial will begin; an extradition hearing is scheduled for April.

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