A New York appeals court on Thursday upheld Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 conviction for sex crimes, raising the likelihood that the disgraced film producer will serve a significant portion of his 23-year sentence.
Since last summer, Mr. Weinstein, 70, has been awaiting trial in Los Angeles, where he has been charged with multiple counts of forcible rape and forced oral copulation, as well as other counts related to sex crimes. A trial date is expected to be set this month.
The New York ruling had been eagerly awaited by the state’s legal community, particularly after closing arguments in December, when members of the five-judge panel hearing the case appeared skeptical of some of the judge’s decisions. of first instance.
But Thursday’s decision was unanimous — and clear.
“We reject the arguments of the defendant and affirm the conviction in all respects,” wrote Judge Angela M. Mazzarelli, author of the opinion.
A lawyer for Mr Weinstein said his legal team would ask New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, to review the claim. This court will not automatically take the case.
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“We are obviously disappointed with the court’s decision and look forward to asking the Court of Appeal to consider what we believe are substantive and meritorious legal issues,” said attorney Barry Kamins. “Mr. Weinstein will continue to pursue all available legal remedies to establish that he did not receive a fair trial.
Reports that Mr. Weinstein sexually abused women appeared in The New York Times in the fall of 2017, leading dozens of others to speak about their own experiences and ultimately sparking what has come to be known as the #MeToo movement, a global repudiation of sexual misconduct by powerful men. .
The Weinstein case has led to a cascade of accusations against other prominent figures and a widespread discussion about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault, and the damage caused by such behavior.
Less than a year later, Mr. Weinstein was indicted by Manhattan prosecutors and charged with sex crimes.
His trial began in January 2020, and at the end of the following month, a jury found him guilty of two crimes: a first degree criminal sexual act and a third degree rape. He was acquitted of two charges of predatory sexual assault. In March, he was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
The former Manhattan district attorney who indicted Mr. Weinstein, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said Thursday that the appeals court’s decision was a “relief”, but added that he had always been confident in the strength of the evidence.
“The trial court rendered balanced decisions and, by any measure, provided the defendant with a fair trial,” Mr Vance said. “Above all, I am grateful that the appeals court credited the women’s testimony to frame its legal analysis.”
His successor, Alvin L. Bragg, added that the appeals court upheld “a monumental conviction that changed the way prosecutors and courts approach complex sexual predator prosecutions.”
Lawyers for Mr. Weinstein appealed his conviction in April 2021, arguing that three women who had accused Mr. Weinstein of sexual assaults for which he was not charged should never have been allowed to testify and that the prosecutors had “judged Weinstein’s character, not his conduct.”
But Judge Mazzarelli said the women had provided “useful information” and that their accounts had been essential in showing Mr Weinstein’s behavior. They demonstrated, she said, that Mr. Weinstein did not view his victims as “romantic partners or friends”, but that “his goal at all times was to position women in such a way that he could having sex with them, and whether the women consented or not was irrelevant to him.
She said the witnesses helped the jury understand the dynamic between Mr. Weinstein and his victims, particularly because the women he was accused of assaulting continued their relationships with him afterwards.