Harvey Weinstein lost a bid to have his 2020 rape and sexual assault conviction thrown out, according to a ruling by a New York appellate court Thursday.
In an unanimous decision, the court shot down Weinstein’s argument that he was the victim of misguided rulings by the trial judge – including a one that allowed jurors to hear about allegations of misconduct for which he wasn’t charged.
“We perceive no basis for reducing the sentence, and we have considered defendant’s remaining arguments and find them unavailing,” read the decision from the Appellate Division, First Department.
Weinstein, 69, is jailed in California while awaiting trial on separate charges he sexually assaulted five women in Los Angeles between 2004 and 2013. He has pleaded not guilty.
The movie mogul was sentenced to 23 years in prison in March 2020 after a Manhattan jury convicted him of forcibly performing oral sex on former “Project Runway” production assistant Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi in 2006 and raping hairstylist Jessica Mann in 2013.
He was found not guilty of two counts of predatory sexual assault in connection to the alleged mid-1990s rape of actress Annabella Sciorra.
His attorneys filed an appeal with the First Department, in April 2021, arguing that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James Burke improperly allowed testimony of Weinstein’s “prior bad acts” to come into trial.
Three women testified about uncharged sexual misconduct to bolster the prosecution’s case. Burke also admitted evidence and testimony about Weinstein’s past boorish behavior.
Additionally, Weinstein’s legal team argued Burke should have removed a juror who wrote a novel featuring predatory older men and their relationships with girls.
During a December hearing, one of the judges on the five-member panel blasted prosecutors over the “incredibly prejudicial testimony” from some of the witnesses.
“Let’s inflame the jury’s heart by telling them that he beat up his brother during a meeting. I just I don’t see how there is a balance there on that,” Judge Sallie Manzanet-Daniels had said.
The issue of “prior bad acts” was one of the arguments that Bill Cosby’s lawyers used to overturn his sexual assault conviction in Pennsylvania. New York has its own set of more restrictive laws relating to this type of evidence.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Barry Kamins, told the appellate judges that the extra testimony went beyond what is normally accepted — and that Burke’s rulings allowed a mountain of prejudicial evidence against his client, contributing to his decision to not testify in his own defense.
“The jury was overwhelmed by such prejudicial, bad evidence,” Kamins said. “This was a trial of Harvey Weinstein’s character. The people were making him out to be a bad person.”
Lawyers for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office had argued that the conviction should stand.
Reps for Weinstein and the DA’s office didn’t immediately return requests for comment.
Additional reporting by Tamar Lapin