NEW YORK – A New York appeals court docket on Thursday upheld Harvey Weinstein’s rape conviction and 23-year jail sentence, rejecting the film magnate’s declare that the choose at his landmark #MeToo trial prejudiced him by way of letting girls testify about allegations that weren’t a part of the felony case.
The ruling by way of a five-judge panel within the state’s intermediate appeals court docket affirmed some of the highest-profile verdicts to this point in America’s reckoning with sexual misconduct by way of robust figures — an generation that started with a flood of allegations towards Weinstein.
Weinstein’s publicist, Juda Engelmayer, mentioned he’s reviewing his choices and can search to enchantment the verdict to the state’s best court docket, the Court of Appeals.
“We are disappointed, but not surprised,” Engelmayer mentioned.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who took administrative center in January whilst Weinstein’s enchantment used to be pending, mentioned in a commentary that prosecutors have been “gratified by today’s decision, which upholds a monumental conviction that changed the way prosecutors and courts approach complex prosecutions of sexual predators.”
Weinstein, 70, used to be convicted in New York in February 2020 of forcibly appearing oral intercourse on a TV and picture manufacturing assistant in 2006 and raping an aspiring actress in 2013. He used to be acquitted of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual attack stemming from actor Annabella Sciorra’s allegations of a mid-Nineteen Nineties rape.
The Associated Press does now not usually determine other folks alleging sexual attack until they consent to be named; Sciorra has spoken publicly about her allegations.
Weinstein is jailed in California, the place he used to be extradited remaining 12 months and is looking ahead to trial on fees he assaulted 5 girls in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013.
Former District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who oversaw Weinstein’s prosecution, informed The Associated Press he has at all times had self assurance within the power of the case. He mentioned he used to be assured that trial choose James Burke’s rulings have been truthful and can be sustained on enchantment.
“I am also grateful this decision by the appellate court fully credits the powerful testimony of the brave and strong survivors of Mr. Weinstein’s abuse,” Vance said. “Today, they are one step closer to full closure of the legal process, which they deserve.”
The ruling upholding Weinstein’s conviction came in the wake of several setbacks for women seeking to hold celebrity men accountable for alleged wrongdoing.
On Wednesday, a Virginia jury found that Amber Heard’s abuse allegations against Johnny Depp were defamatory. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal after a Pennsylvania court threw out Bill Cosby’s sexual attack conviction.
In Weinstein’s case, the appeals court took an unusually long time to rule — posting its decision on the brink of summer, nearly six months after a contentious round of oral arguments last December that stoked doubts about whether his conviction would stand. The court had been expected to rule in January.
At the listening to, some judges have been essential of Burke and prosecutors and advised they have been open to in all probability reversing Weinstein’s conviction and ordering a brand new trial. Judge Sallie Manzanet-Daniels used to be in particular vocal, pronouncing Burke had allowed prosecutors to pile on with “incredibly prejudicial testimony” from the additional witnesses.
But, in the 45-page ruling Thursday, the five judges were unanimous in finding that Burke had properly exercised his discretion in allowing prosecutors to bolster their case with testimony from three women who accused Weinstein of violated them but whose claims did not lead to charges in the New York case.
The judges also concurred with Burke’s decision clearing the way for prosecutors to confront Weinstein with evidence about other, unrelated misbehavior if he had testified, including whether he had left a colleague by the side of the road in a foreign country, told people to lie to his wife, or screamed at restaurant staff while demanding a late-night meal.
The judges, in their ruling, said that although the volume of material — pertaining to 28 alleged acts of abusive, boorish behavior over 30 years — was “unquestionably large, and, at first blush, perhaps appears to be troublingly so,” Burke correctly exercised his discretion in weighing its relevance to the case.
The panel additionally rejected Weinstein’s argument that Burke used to be improper in alternative ways: by way of permitting a lady who had written a singular involving predatory older males to stay at the jury, and by way of letting prosecutors have a professional on sufferer habits and rape myths testify. Burke didn’t permit testimony on equivalent topics from protection professionals.
Rules on calling further witnesses to testify about “prior bad acts” range by way of state and have been a subject in Cosby’s a hit enchantment of his sexual attack conviction in Pennsylvania. New York’s regulations, formed by way of a call in a 1901 poisoning case, are a few of the extra restrictive.
At the December appeals court docket listening to, Weinstein’s legal professionals argued the additional testimony went past what’s generally allowed — detailing reason, alternative, intent or a commonplace scheme or plan — and necessarily put the ex-studio boss on trial for crimes he wasn’t charged with and hadn’t had a possibility to shield himself towards.
Burke’s ruling permitting prosecutors to make use of tales from Weinstein’s previous to assault his credibility necessarily handcuffed his protection and labored to stop him from taking the witness stand, Weinstein legal professional Barry Kamins informed the appellate panel on the December listening to.
“The jury was overwhelmed by such prejudicial, bad evidence,” Kamins argued. “This was a trial of Harvey Weinstein’s character. The people were making him out to be a bad person.”
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