190619 Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein Image Credit: AFP

Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's conviction on 2020 sexual misconduct has been overturned by New York's top court, the state's court of appeals said in an opinion on Thursday. A new trial has been ordered.

According to a report in The Guardian, the state of New York court of appeals ruled that the judge who oversaw Weinstein’s 2020 conviction was mistaken in allowing other women whose accusations were not a part of the 2020 case to testify.

The original 2020 judgement was overturned by a single vote, the New York Times reported.

In a 4-3 decision on Thursday, the New York Court of Appeals found that the trial judge who presided over Harvey Weinstein’s case had made a crucial mistake, allowing prosecutors to call as witnesses a series of women who said Weinstein had assaulted them — but whose accusations were not part of the charges against him.

According to Reuters, the appeals 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.

"The remedy for these egregious errors is a new trial," the court said.

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape and sexual assault by courts in New York and Los Angeles. Weinstein, 72, has been serving a 23-year sentence in a New York prison following his conviction on charges of criminal acts against his TV and film production assistant in 2006 and rape in the third degree for an attack on an aspiring actress in 2013.

According to AP, Weinstein will remain imprisoned because he was convicted in Los Angeles in 2022 of another rape and sentenced to 16 years in prison. 

As soon as the news of the latest ruling emerged, survivors of Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct expressed their outrage and disappointment. 

Actress Ashley Judd, one of the first people to publicly share allegations against Weinstein, told the New York Times: “That’s really hard for the survivors … We still live in our truth. And we know what happened.”

Jane Manning, the director of the Women’s Equal Justice project and a former sex crimes prosecuton, also expressed her disappointment. 

“This is a shocking and disheartening day for survivors of sexual assault,” said Manning.

“This just shows how much more work we all have to do, to bring the ideals of the #MeToo movement forward.”

In October 2017, Weinstein was sacked by the board of his company when several women came forward with their sordid experiences with the movie mogul. The accusations sparked a #MeToo movement in Hollywood and beyond where experiences of sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry were taken seriously.