Harvey Weinstein appeals against LA rape conviction


Harvey Weinstein has appealed against his LA rape conviction, six weeks after his separate New York rape conviction was overturned.

Lawyers for the 72-year-old disgraced film producer say he didn’t get a fair trial in the 2022 California case, where he was convicted of rape and sexual assault, which resulted in a 16-year jail sentence.

He is requesting a new trial.

Weinstein’s landmark 2020 New York conviction saw him handed a 23-year prison sentence and kickstarted a global #MeToo movement – but in April it was overturned by the state’s highest court.

It was ruled that the hearing had been prejudiced by “egregious” improper rulings by the judge, including a decision to let women testify about allegations that were not part of the case.

Accordingly, Weinstein could potentially face a new trial in New York.

Now, in this appeal against his California conviction, Weinstein’s lawyers claim he “stands wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting Jane Doe 1”.

LA appeal documents, seen by Sky News’s US partner NBC, also make additional allegations. They claim evidence was wrongly excluded from the trial, showing that the model and actor Weinstein was convicted of raping had a sexual relationship with the director of a film festival. Weinstein and the actor were in LA for the festival.

The documents also say the judge was wrong to allow jurors to know about Weinstein’s previous, now-vacated conviction in New York, and that in a similar situation to his now-overturned New York conviction, the jury was unfairly prejudiced by testimony from women about alleged assaults he was not charged with.

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Actor ‘confident’ appeal will fail

At his California trial, Weinstein was charged with sexually assaulting four women, but a jury convicted him of an attack on just one, Evgeniya Chernyshova, who testified that Weinstein appeared uninvited at her hotel room during the LA Italia Film Festival in 2013.

Weinstein’s lawyers argue that Superior Court Judge Lisa B Lench was wrong to prevent his defence from showing the jury Facebook messages that showed Chernyshova and the festival’s founder, Pascal Vicedomini, had a sexual relationship.

They also argue that a lawsuit filed by Chernyshova shortly after the verdict demonstrates that they should have been allowed to question whether she had financial motives in the state’s outcome.

Chernyshova’s team have said they are “confident Weinstein’s appeal will be denied,” accusing him of making “the same tired arguments that he previously made multiple times, without success, to the trial court”.

Mimi Haley's lawyer Gloria Allred holding a sign before speaking to reporters outside court. Pic: Reuters
Pic: Reuters

Weinstein has hired appellate attorneys following his sentencing, including Jennifer Bonjean – a Chicago-based lawyer who helped Bill Cosby get his sexual assault conviction overturned in 2021.

Weinstein’s team said he is “entitled to a new trial where his constitutional rights are safeguarded, where he is permitted to present evidence of his innocence, and where his conduct is on trial – not his character”.

The prosecution has until 6 August to file its response to the appeal.

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Weinstein, who has had cardiac issues, diabetes, sleep apnoea and eye problems, has been described by his lawyer Arthur Aidala as “somewhat of a train wreck health-wise” but still “sharp as a tack” mentally.

Once considered the most powerful man in Hollywood, he has admitted his past behaviour “caused a lot of pain”, but has maintained his innocence throughout, saying any sexual activity was consensual.

He is currently in jail in New York.

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