Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction overturned by New York appeals court

The State of New York Court of Appeals has overturned Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 conviction on rape charges and has ordered a new trial. Despite this, Weinstein will stay in prison as he has a conviction in a separate case in California. In the 2020 trial, Weinstein, who is now 72 years old, was convicted of rape in the third degree for sexually assaulting an actress in 2013 and of committing a criminal sex act by coercing oral sex from a former production assistant in 2006. He was given a 23-year prison sentence.

The court determined that the judge overseeing Harvey Weinstein’s case had erred by permitting prosecutors to bring in witnesses whose allegations were not related to the charges against him, as per the 4-3 ruling. The decision text was made public on Thursday morning.

The decision to have women who were not part of the charges against Weinstein testify was made “erroneously” by the lower court, the appeals court said. The error was “compounded” when the lower court ruled that Weinstein could be cross-examined about those allegations. The appeals court said these decisions diminished Weinstein’s character before a jury.

Because prosecutors may not use “prior convictions or proof of the prior commission of specific, criminal, vicious or immoral acts” to establish a person’s criminality, the decision to have alleged victims whose claims were not part of the charges against Weinstein meant that he was judged “on irrelevant, prejudicial, and untested allegations of prior bad acts,” according to the appeals court. 

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