The rape conviction that landed Harvey Weinstein behind bars may now be in danger of being overturned.
At a Wednesday hearing in New York before the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, justices seemed perturbed by prosecutors’ strategy of including testimony from women whose accounts were not part of the criminal charges facing the disgraced movie mogul. The judge in Weinstein’s original criminal trial also allowed prosecutors to bring up other incidents that may have portrayed Weinstein in a bad—but not necessarily criminal—light.
“What did leaving his employee on the side of the road in a foreign country have anything to do with this sex crime case?” asked Justice Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, according to Variety. “Other than, ‘Let’s put in as much as we can to show that guy is a terrible guy.'”
At another point, Manzanet-Daniels asked the attorney representing the Manhattan DA’s office, “You’re really arguing this was not overkill?”
Justice Judith Gische, another judge on the appeals panel, said of Weinstein, “He doesn’t get convinced [sic] because he’s a bad guy. He gets convicted for these particular crimes. So that argument—I have to admit, it’s rubbing me the wrong way.”
Weinstein was convicted in New York in February 2020 of raping one woman in the third degree, as well as criminal sexual act in the first degree involving another woman. Other women also testified against Weinstein, as part of an effort by prosecutors to illustrate a pattern of abuse. Weinstein was ultimately sentenced to more than two decades in prison.
“The jury was overwhelmed by such prejudicial, bad evidence,” Barry Kamins, Weinstein’s lawyer, told the appeals panel, according to CNBC. “This was a trial of Harvey Weinstein’s character. The people were making him out to be a bad person.”
“He was in a legal vise in this case,” Kamins added, Vulture reported.
The justices in the New York appeal are not expected to rule for several months. In the meantime, Weinstein is facing sex crime charges in Los Angeles.
Bill Cosby, whose sexual assault conviction was also once held up as evidence that the #MeToo movement had led society to take sexual assault and harassment more seriously, had his conviction overturned last summer.