Undoing #MeToo

A New York Court of Appeals has overturned Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 conviction on felony sex crime charges, for which he was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

In a 4-3 decision, the court found that the trial judge in the disgraced mogul’s case had made a critical error, allowing prosecutors to call a series of women as witnesses who said that Weinstein had assaulted them, but whose accusations weren’t part of the charges against him, the NYT reports.

In 2020, Lauren Young and two other women, Dawn Dunning and Tarale Wulff, testified about their encounters with Weinstein under a state law that allows testimony about “prior bad acts” to demonstrate a pattern of behavior. But the court in its decision on Thursday said that “under our system of justice, the accused has a right to be held to account only for the crime charged.”

Citing that decision and others it identified as errors, the appeals court determined that Mr. Weinstein, who as a movie producer had been one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, had not received a fair trial. The four judges in the majority wrote that Mr. Weinstein was not tried solely on the crimes he was charged with, but instead for much of his past behavior. -NYT

The decision was determined by one vote on a majority female panel of judges, who in February held a searching public debate over the fairness of the original trial.

Weinstein was convicted of raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann at a DoubleTree hotel in 2013 when she was 27-years-old, and forcing oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, then 28, at his apartment in 2006.

Now, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who’s currently prosecuting former President Donald Trump, will have to decide whether to seek a retrial of Weinstein – who remains in an upstate prison in Rome, NY at the moment. It’s unclear how the decision will affect his future. In 2022, he was convicted by a California court of raping a woman in a Beverly Hills hotel and sentenced to 16 years in prison. The jury found Weinstein guilty of rape, forcible oral copulation, and sexual penetration by foreign object involving a woman known as Jane Doe 1.

The 2022 jury acquitted Weinstein of a sexual battery charge made by a massage therapist who treated him at a hotel in 2010, and was unable to reach a decision on two allegations, including rape, involving Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California’s Democratic governor Gavin Newsom. She was known as Jane Doe 4 in the trial, and had testified to being raped by Weinstein in a hotel room in 2005.

Weinstein was convicted of sexually abusing over 100 women – and was convicted of assaulting two of them in the New York case.

That is unfair to survivors,” said actress Ashley Judd, the first actress to come forward with allegations against Weinstein, the NYT‘s Jodi Kantor reports. “We still live in our truth. And we know what happened.”

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