Harvey Weinstein's Rape Conviction Was Just Overturned. Here's What That Means

In 2017, The New York Times and the New Yorker reported that, for years, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had been using his power to sexually abuse women. In 2020, he was convicted in New York on two counts of sexual assault, which became the #MeToo movement’s first major victory. On April 25, 2024, however, that conviction was overturned by the New York Court of Appeals. So, what does this mean? And, maybe more importantly, what happens now?

Here’s what we know so far about Harvey Weinstein’s conviction, why it was overturned, and what happens next.

Why was Harvey Weinstein’s conviction overturned?

In its decision, the New York Court of Appeals wrote, “We conclude that the trial court erroneously admitted testimony of uncharged, alleged prior sexual acts against persons other than the complainants of the underlying crimes,” per Associated Press. Put more simply, the court decided that Harvey Weinstein, 72, didn’t get a fair trial because the judge at the time allowed alleged victims who were not part of this case to testify against him. Over 100 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, according to the New York Times, but this case was about just two of his accusers. Four other accusers testified against Weinstein in court, but their allegations weren’t part of the criminal charge against him.

The Court of Appeals decision was 4-3. Per AP, Judge Madeline Singas, one of the four judges who voted against overturning Weinstein’s conviction, wrote in her dissent that the majority was furthering a “disturbing trend of overturning juries’ guilty verdicts in cases involving sexual violence.” She wrote, “The majority’s determination perpetuates outdated notions of sexual violence and allows predators to escape accountability.”

Does this mean Harvey Weinstein is getting out of prison?

Though his New York conviction was overturned, Harvey Weinstein is still not a free man. He was also convicted of rape in Los Angeles in 2022, and sentenced to 16 years in prison, per the Los Angeles Times.

Could Harvey Weinstein be tried again?

The judges on the New York Court of Appeals said that the proper remedy is a “new trial,” and prosecutors have said that they intend to try Harvey Weinstein again. “We will do everything in our power to retry this case, and remain steadfast in our commitment to survivors of sexual assault,” a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney’s office said, per the New York Times.

This would mean that Weinstein’s alleged victims would be put through the trauma of a trial all over again. Said Douglas H. Wigdor, an attorney who has represented eight of Weinstein’s accusers, “Overturning the verdict is tragic in that it will require the victims to endure yet another trial,” according to AP.

How have victims and activists responded to the news?

Alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein and leaders of the #MeToo movement have reacted with shock, describing the decision as a step backward and a loss for all victims of sexual assault.

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