Harvey Weinstein conviction overturned: Hollywood furious

Harvey Weinstein's accusers and opponents of sexual assault in Hollywood and beyond are speaking out against the reversal of the disgraced New York movie mogul's rape conviction.

Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino and others who have accused the former Hollywood producer of sexual misconduct condemned the New York appeals court's decision Thursday to overturn the verdict.

Weinstein has been serving a 23-year prison sentence since he was convicted in 2020 of rape and a sex crime after allegedly attacking former production assistant Mimi Haley and once aspiring actor Jessica Mann.

“This today is an act of institutional betrayal. And our institutions are betraying survivors of male sexual violence,” Judd said at a press conference at the Millennium Hilton hotel in New York. “I stand shoulder to shoulder with women who have bloody knees, because male sexual violence may knock us down, but we get right back up. And together we are in the fight for freedom from men's right to our bodies.”

“This is unfair to the survivors,” Judd added on her Instagram Story. “We live in our truth. We know what happened.”

Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, noted during the press conference that “moments like these underscore why movements are necessary and … why we continue.”

“We are devastated for the survivors involved in this case and for the survivors who found some comfort and catharsis in the original verdict,” Burke said. “We will always remain steadfast and resilient. … This is not a blow to the movement. It is a loud call and we are prepared to answer that call.”

The New York Court of Appeals ruled in a 4-3 decisionthat the judge presiding over Weinstein's trial biased the case by allowing four women who said Weinstein assaulted them to serve as witnesses, even though their allegations were not part of the case.

The judge also erred, the court found, by allowing prosecutors to question Weinstein about unindicted and decades-old allegations if he decided to testify.

Weinstein was also convicted of rape in California, and the New York ruling will have no practical effect on his imprisonment.

Weinstein's legal team praised the court's ruling at a news conference in Manhattan.

“From the bottom of our hearts, from our collective hundreds of years of experience, we knew that Harvey Weinstein did not receive a fair trial,” said Arthur Aidala, Weinstein's lead attorney. “There are people who are unpopular in society, but we still have to apply the law fairly.”

Sorvino wrote on X that she was “shocked” by the news, which surfaced during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“Since when do courts not admit evidence of a pattern of prior bad actions?” Sorvino said. “He is a prolific serial predator who has raped/harmed over 200 women! Disgusted with justice system [skew toward] predators, not victims.”

Weinstein has denied all allegations of sexual abuse.

The Silence Breakers — a coalition of 23 women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including actors Judd, Rose McGowan and Rosanna Arquette — released a statement calling the reversal “disheartening” and “profoundly unfair.”

“This statement does not diminish the validity of our experiences or our truth; it is just a setback,” the Silence Breakers said.

“The man found guilty is still in a California prison. When survivors around the world broke their silence in 2017, the world changed. We continue to stand strong and advocate for that change. We will continue to fight for justice for survivors everywhere.”

Documentary filmmaker, Weinstein accuser and California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom considered Thursday “a very sad day for countless women who suffered at the hands of a serial predator.”

“Two juries have said unequivocally: Harvey Weinstein should never be able to rape another woman, and he deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars,” Siebel Newsom said in a statement.

“The criminal trial in Los Angeles was one of the most horrific experiences of my life. … I am so proud of all who risked so much to speak their truth.”

Anita Hill, president and chair of the Hollywood Commission, said in a statement that Thursday's reversal shows “a lack of progress in addressing the power imbalances that enable abuse” and proves that “sexual assault remains a pervasive problem.”

“Many survivors do not pursue justice because they believe nothing will be done,” Hill added.

“Today's decision underscores the urgent need for systemic change in our institutions – and redoubles our commitment to survivors to push for the policies and systems that will ensure accountability and create workplaces free from the behaviors that the need for these systems in the first place. .”

Attorney Douglas Wigdor — who has represented eight of Weinstein's accusers, including two of the witnesses in the New York criminal trial — denounced Thursday's decision as “a major step back in holding accountable those responsible for acts of sexual violence.” ”

“Courts routinely admit evidence of other uncharged acts when helping juries understand issues regarding the defendant's intent, modus operandi, or plan,” Wigdor said in a statement.

“The jury was instructed as to the relevance of this testimony and the overturning of the verdict is tragic as it will require the victims to endure another trial.”

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represented Haley and two other witnesses in the New York case, confirmed in a statement Thursday that her client “would consider testifying again if District Attorney Alvin Bragg decides to move forward with a new trial.”

“I commend Mimi for her courage and willingness to continue to stand up for the truth,” Allred said. “The decision means it will be harder to convict those who victimize and prey on women. As a result, there will be fewer prosecutions against sexual predators and many will escape the justice they deserve. Although the victims lost this battle, they did not lose the war.”

Attorney David Ring – who represents actor Evgeniya Chernyshova, a Jane Doe, in the criminal case against Harvey Weinstein in Los Angeles – said his client is “obviously disappointed” in Thursday's outcome.

“She feels sorry for the victims who endured that trial and subsequent appeals only to have the convictions overturned,” Ring said in a statement. “However, both she and I are confident that Weinstein's rape conviction in Los Angeles will stand.”

In a statement to The Times, a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney's office said: “We will do everything in our power to retry this case and remain steadfast in our commitment to survivors of sexual assault.”

Times staff writers Jenny JarvieRichard Winton and James Queally contributed to this report.

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