New York court upholds Harvey Weinstein's sex crime conviction

New York court upholds Harvey Weinstein’s sex crime conviction

A New York appeals court on Thursday upheld Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 conviction for sex crimes, raising the possibility 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 several counts of forced rape and forced oral intercourse, as well as other charges of sex crimes. A trial date is expected this month.

New York’s decision was highly anticipated by the state’s legal community, especially after oral arguments in December, when members of the five-judge panel that looked into the case appeared skeptical of some of the decisions made by the trial judge.

But Thursday’s decision was unanimous — and clear.

“We reject the defendant’s arguments, and affirm the guilt in all respects,” Judge Angela M. Mazzarelli, author of the opinion, wrote.

Mr Weinstein’s lawyer said his legal team will ask the New York Supreme Court of Appeals to review the assertion. This court will not automatically consider the case.

“We are clearly disappointed with the court’s decision and look forward to asking the Court of Appeals to review what we believe are meritorious legal issues,” said attorney Barry Cummins. “Mr. Weinstein will continue to pursue all available legal remedies to establish that he did not receive a fair trial.”

Reports of Mr. Weinstein sexually assaulting women appeared in the New York Times in the fall of 2017, prompting dozens of others to speak out about their own experiences and ultimately sparking what became known as the #MeToo movement, the global renunciation of sexual misconduct by powerful men.

The Weinstein case led to a series of accusations against other prominent figures and widespread discussion about the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault, and the harm such behavior has caused.

Less than a year later, Manhattan prosecutors indicted Mr. Weinstein and charged them with sex crimes.

His trial began in January 2020, and late the following month, a jury found him guilty of two crimes: a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. 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 the appeals court’s decision was a “relief,” but added that he had always been confident in the strength of the evidence.

“The lower court rendered balanced judgments and provided the accused with a fair trial,” Mr. Vance said. “Most of all, I am grateful that the Court of Appeals favored women’s testimony in framing its legal analysis.”

His successor, Alvin L. Bragg, added that the appeals court upheld a “massive conviction that changed the way prosecutors and courts handle complex prosecutions of sex offenders.”

Mr Weinstein’s lawyers appealed his conviction in April 2021, arguing that three women who had accused Mr Weinstein of sexual assaults he was not accused of should not have been allowed to testify and that prosecutors “experimented with Weinstein’s character, not his behaviour”.

But Judge Mazzarelli said the women provided “useful information” and that their accounts were key to demonstrating Mr Weinstein’s pattern of behaviour. They showed, she said, that Mr. Weinstein did not see his victims as “romantic partners or friends”, but that “his aim at all times was to position women in such a way that he could have sex with them, and that whether or not a woman kissed is irrelevant to him.”

She said the witnesses helped the jury understand the dynamic between Mr. Weinstein and his victims, especially since the women charged with assault continued to have relations with him afterwards.

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