Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction overturned by New York’s top court – LifeSite

NEW YORK (LifeSiteNews) — In a stunning reversal of the country’s most famous “MeToo” sexual misconduct case, a New York court of appeals has tossed out Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction and ordered a new trial to be held.

Weinstein, 72, had been accused of sexual assault and rape by more than 80 women, making him a central figure in the “MeToo” movement.

The court’s 4-3 decision “has reopened a painful chapter in America’s reckoning with sexual misconduct by powerful figures,” noted an Associated Press (AP) report.

“New York’s Court of Appeals found the trial judge in the rape case prejudiced Weinstein with ‘egregious’ improper rulings, including a decision to let women testify about allegations that Weinstein wasn’t charged with,” according to the AP. “The court’s majority said it was an ‘abuse of judicial discretion’ for Judge James Burke to allow testimony from these other women about “loathsome alleged bad acts and despicable behavior.”

Despite the New York court’s ruling, Weinstein will remain behind bars serving a 16-year prison sentence resulting from a 2022 rape conviction in a Los Angeles court.  He also faces outstanding indecent assault charges in London.

“This today is an act of institutional betrayal,” said Ashley Judd, the first actress to go public with allegations against Weinstein, at a press conference after the court’s surprise decision.

“Our institutions betray survivors of male sexual violence,” Judd continued. “And we need to work within and without the systems to start having what is known as institutional courage. 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 struggle for freedom from male entitlement to our bodies.”

“Today’s decision reinforces what we already know through our survey of over 13,000 entertainment workers,” declared Anita Hill, head of the Hollywood Anti-Sexual Harassment Commission founded in 2017 as the “MeToo” movement emerged.

“We have seen a lack of progress in addressing the power imbalances that allow abuse to occur and that sexual assault continues to be a pervasive problem,” Hill said. “Many survivors do not pursue justice because they believe nothing will be done. Today’s decision underscores the urgent need for systemic changes in our institutions — and redoubles our commitment to survivors to push for the policies and systems that will ensure accountability and bring about workplaces free from the behavior that drives the need for these systems in the first place.”

During Weinstein’s 2020 trial, 28 witnesses testified concerning alleged incidents that occurred over the course of three decades.

At that trial, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon and co-counsel Meghan Hast argued that Weinstein preyed on vulnerable, naive women who tried to develop professional relationships with him in the hope of furthering their careers.

“To the defendant, it has been said he was the master of his universe and the witnesses here were merely ants that he could step on without consequences,” Illuzzi-Orbon told the Manhattan Supreme Court jury during her closing arguments.

“Moreover, he felt like he had a surefire insurance policy that the witnesses were standing in line to get into his universe,” the prosecutor continued. “‘The universe is run by me’ and therefore they don’t get to complain when they’re stepped on, spit on, demoralized and raped and abused by the defendant.”

Beyond a career as an Oscar-winning producer, Weinstein was known for his political activity on behalf of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. At the time the sexual assault allegations came to light, Weinstein had been working on a documentary about Clinton.

Weinstein had reportedly pledged a $100,000 donation to Planned Parenthood in May 2017, although the abortion giant later denied that Weinstein ever fulfilled that pledge.

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