Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 Rape Conviction Overturned in New York, But Will Remain in Prison

The New York Court of Appeals determined that the judge who oversaw Weinstein’s trial in 2020 made two major mistakes warranting a new trial.

Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 Rape Conviction Overturned in New York, But Will Remain in Prison

On Thursday, the New York Court of Appeals issued a 4-3 ruling overturning Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 conviction on felony sex crime charges and called for Weinstein, who’s since been accused of sexual abuse by over 100 women, to receive a new trial. In their decision, the majority argued that the judge who oversaw Weinstein’s trial made two major mistakes: First, they determined the judge shouldn’t have allowed several of the women accusing Weinstein of sexual misconduct to testify against him because their allegations were separate from the charges against him. Second, the majority claims that because prosecutors said they would question Weinstein about the other women’s allegations if he testified, this prevented Weinstein from testifying in his trial altogether.

Taken together, the judges in the majority called this “an abuse of judicial discretion to permit untested allegations of nothing more than bad behavior that destroys a defendant’s character but sheds no light on their credibility as related to the criminal charges lodged against them.”

“Bad behavior” is a stunningly dismissive way to write off the women’s horrific allegations of sexual assault and sexual exploitation. And the framing of the women’s testimony as both not credible and a means to victimize Weinstein and “destroy” his “character” is especially appalling—a reminder that for all the attention MeToo has garnered since the first reporting about Weinstein’s treatment of women in 2017, many judges in our legal system remain determinedly, openly hostile toward survivors.

The one dissenting judge, Madeline Singas, wrote in her scathing dissent about how the majority’s opinion reflects the legal system’s innate cruelty toward survivors, accusing the majority of attempting to “[whitewash] the facts to conform to a he-said, she-said narrative” in Weinstein’s case, even as dozens and dozens of women have accused him of egregious sexual harm.

“The majority’s determination perpetuates outdated notions of sexual violence and allows predators to escape accountability,” Singas wrote. Referring to the majority’s opinion that Weinstein’s other alleged victims shouldn’t have been permitted to testify, she added, “This conclusion deprives juries of the context necessary to do their work, … ignores the nuances of how sexual violence is perpetrated and perceived, and demonstrates the majority’s utter lack of understanding of the dynamics of sexual assault.”

“Because New York’s women deserve better, I dissent,” Singas concluded.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will now decide whether his office will pursue a new trial against Weinstein, who will remain in prison where he’s been serving his 23-year sentence in a correctional facility in Rome, New York. Two years after he was convicted in New York, Weinstein was also convicted by a Los Angeles court on multiple counts of sexual crimes and sentenced to 16 years in prison, which he’ll serve in California after completing his New York sentence.

Even as Weinstein will remain in prison in New York for the time being, the reversal of his conviction and the possibility of a new trial that would require survivors to come forward—again—has resulted in fresh, wholly justified outrage. “The Weinstein appeal is a reminder that, in this society, the violence never ends for survivors. The trauma of being called to relitigate your case over and over again cannot be overstated,” sexual violence researcher Dr. Nicole Bedera wrote on Twitter on Thursday. Kenyora Lenair Parham, CEO of End Rape on Campus, said the message sent by the overturning of Weinstein’s New York conviction is “painfully clear: despite the spotlight on sexual violence, survivors’ pain doesn’t matter.”

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin