Harvey Weinstein's rape conviction overturned in New York

Weinstein outside of court in New York City in 2020 - Brendan McDermid/Reuters, FILE

The rape conviction of movie producer Harvey Weinstein has been overturned by New York's highest court.

The New York Court of Appeals, in a scathing 4-3 opinion, overturned Weinstein's conviction on sex crimes against three women, finding the trial judge "erroneously admitted testimony of uncharged, alleged prior sexual acts against persons other than the complainants of the underlying crimes."

The court said that testimony "served no material non-propensity purpose" and "portrayed defendant in a highly prejudicial light."

Weinstein spokesperson Juda Engelmayer told ABC News, "We are happily surprised and we are studying the ruling."

The Weinstein team, which was eagerly awaiting a ruling, was not expecting it to be in Weinstein's favor after a succession of rulings in different courts all went against Weinstein.

Weinstein was also convicted of sex offenses in Los Angeles and sentenced to 16 years in prison there.

Because Weinstein is already convicted in California, he will not be released but instead transferred to the custody of prison authorities in California.

Weinstein, 72, was a well-known, powerful man within the entertainment industry, and prosecutors said he abused his power to take advantage of aspiring female actors, like the alleged victims, to coerce them into unwanted sexual encounters — a well-known secret in Hollywood, prosecutors alleged.

An explosive New York Times article in October 2017 reported Weinstein had reached at least eight settlements with women who accused him of sexual misconduct over decades. The story sparked an avalanche of accusations from women who came forward with similar accounts and largely kicked off the #MeToo movement, targeting prominent celebrities for sexual misconduct.

Weinstein was arrested on May 25, 2018, and charged with first-and third-degree rape for one victim and first-degree criminal sex act for another woman. He was found guilty in February 2020 of two felonies — criminal sexual assault and third-degree rape — but acquitted of the two most serious charges of predatory sexual assault. He was also acquitted of first-degree rape.

Thursday, April 25, 2024 at 11:07AM by Aaron Katersky and Josh Margolin Permalink