Harvey Weinstein's Rape Conviction Overturned in Bombshell Ruling by New York's Highest Court in Big Setback for #MeeToo Movement

Weinstein has consistently maintained innocence, despite a wave of allegations from numerous women, including well-known actresses like Ashley Judd and Uma Thurman.

The New York state's highest court overturned Harvey Weinstein's rape conviction on Thursday and ordered that the disgraced Hollywood mogul should face a new trial. In a 4-3 ruling, the New York State Court of Appeals determined that a Manhattan judge "mistakenly" allowed testimony from three women whose allegations were unrelated to the case.

According to reports, despite the bombshell ruling, Weinstein will remain in prison, as he still faces another conviction in Los Angeles for a separate rape case. Weinstein is serving a 23-year sentence in a New York jail for performing oral sex on former "Project Runway" production assistant Miriam "Mimi" Haleyi Jessica and raping hairstylist Jessica Mann.

Bombshell Ruling

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein Twitter

Weinstein was also handed an additional 16 years following his conviction in Los Angeles in 2022. His legal team in California is currently appealing the decision, and if successful, Weinstein could potentially be released until the new trial in New York.

The trial judge, James Burke, also "compounded the error" by deciding that the former Hollywood producer, if he opted to testify, could face questioning on the witness stand regarding those allegations, along with numerous other accusations of misconduct that portrayed the defendant in an extremely prejudicial manner.

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein Flickr

"The remedy for these egregious errors is a new trial," the appeals court said.

Despite Thursday's ruling, Weinstein will continue to serve his prison sentence because he was separately convicted in February 2023 and sentenced to 16 years in prison in a Los Angeles criminal case for raping an Italian model.

She testified that he forced himself on her after unexpectedly appearing outside her hotel room during an Italian film festival in 2013.

He was cleared of charges of sexual battery by restraint involving Jane Doe 3, and the jury was hung on whether he was guilty of sexual battery by restraint of Jane Doe 2.

Harvey Weinstein arrives at the 89th Academy Awards in Hollywood
Harvey Weinstein Reuters

In a strongly worded dissent, Judge Madeline Singas criticized the majority for "whitewashing the facts to fit a he-said/she-said narrative" and accused the appeals court of perpetuating a "disturbing trend of overturning juries' guilty verdicts in cases involving sexual violence."

"The majority's determination perpetuates outdated notions of sexual violence and allows predators to escape accountability," Singas wrote.

#MeToo Movement Gone in Vain

The overturning of Weinstein's conviction marks the second significant blow to the #MeToo movement in the past two years, following the US Supreme Court's decision not to review a Pennsylvania court's ruling to overturn Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction.

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein X

Throughout the ordeal, Weinstein has consistently maintained innocence, despite a wave of allegations from numerous women, including well-known actresses like Ashley Judd and Uma Thurman.

These allegations centered on the studio executive behind acclaimed films such as "Pulp Fiction" and "Shakespeare in Love."

Harvey Weinstein, the former Hollywood heavyweight currently serving time at the Mohawk Correctional Facility in New York, around 100 miles northwest of Albany, maintains that any sexual encounters were consensual.

Last year, the Court of Appeals agreed to review Weinstein's case after an intermediate appeals court upheld his conviction.

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein X

Prior to the ruling, judges on the lower appellate court expressed concerns about Judge Burke's handling of the case during oral arguments. One judge noted that Burke had allowed prosecutors to introduce "extremely prejudicial testimony" from additional witnesses.

Burke's term concluded at the end of 2022, and he was not reappointed, thus no longer serving as a judge.

In their appeal, Weinstein's attorneys requested a new trial, specifically for the criminal sexual act charge. They contended that the rape charge could not be retried due to the alleged conduct occurring outside the statute of limitations.