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Harvey Weinstein’s Conviction Overturned By Top New York Court

New York’s highest court on Thursday overturned the 2020 sex crimes conviction of former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, in the case that helped trigger the #MeToo movement.

In a 4-3 decision, the state Court of Appeals said the trial judge made a critical mistake by letting prosecutors introduce testimony from women who claimed that Weinstein assaulted them, even though they were not part of the charges he faced.

The court also said the trial judge compounded the error by letting Weinstein be cross-examined in a way that portrayed him in a “highly prejudicial” light.

“It is an abuse of judicial discretion to permit untested allegations of nothing more than bad behavior that destroys a defendant’s character but sheds no light on their credibility as related to the criminal charges,” Judge Jenny Rivera wrote for the majority.

“The remedy for these egregious errors is a new trial,” she added.

Weinstein has been serving a 23-year prison sentence, after being convicted in February 2020 of sexually assaulting a former production assistant in 2006, and raping an aspiring actress in 2013.

It will now be up to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose predecessor Cyrus Vance brought the case, to decide whether to retry Weinstein.

Bragg’s office is separately in the midst of a criminal hush money trial against former U.S. president Donald Trump.

A spokesperson for Bragg did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Weinstein’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a similar request.

The verdict was considered a milestone for #MeToo, in which women have accused hundreds of men in entertainment, media, politics and other fields of sexual misconduct.

“Today’s decision is a major step back in holding those accountable for acts of sexual violence,” said Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer who represented eight of Weinstein’s accusers. “It will require the victims to endure yet another trial.”

Weinstein co-founded the Miramax film studio, whose hit movies included “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction.” His own eponymous film studio filed for bankruptcy in March 2018.

He was separately sentenced last year in California to 16 years in prison after being convicted there for the 2013 rape of an actress in Los Angeles.

Reuters