Disgraced movie producer and Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was found guilty of criminal sexual assault and rape and sentenced to 23 years in prison last year, filed an appeal and is seeking a new trial.
Weinstein, who has been accused of violating dozens of women, was convicted of raping a woman in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman at his apartment in 2006. Weinstein was found guilty in February 2020 of rape in the third degree and of criminal sexual assault in the first degree.
His attorneys argue in the appeal that Weinstein was tried in a “highly volatile and prejudicial atmosphere” and was made out to be a “media villain,” taking aim at Judge James Burke, arguing he swayed outcome with rulings favorable to prosecutors, and a juror who had written a novel involving predatory older men.
“Mr. Weinstein had a right to a fair trial by an impartial jury,” lawyers Barry Kamins, John Leventhal and Diana Fabi-Samson wrote in the brief.
“Although the defense raised legitimate questions about whether Juror No. 11 was fit to serve, the trial court failed to discharge its constitutional obligation to conduct a full inquiry to ensure that the juror was capable of rendering a fair and impartial verdict,” the defense attorneys argued in the 166-page brief filed with the state appellate court.
“Juror No. 11’s fixation with matters of consent and predatory older men and her lack of candor about it, raises troubling questions about whether she prejudged Mr. Weinstein’s guilt and whether she had a personal agenda to see him convicted,” they continued.
The appeal also took aim at the fact that the defense relied heavily on testimony from women who claimed he sexually assaulted them, though he was not charged for those incidents.
“Simply put, the prosecution tried Weinstein’s character not his conduct,” the attorneys wrote.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office said it would respond in its own court filing.
“We will respond in our brief to the court,” a spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement.
Weinstein is also charged in California with assaulting five women in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013. His extradition has been delayed because of the pandemic. Weinstein tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after arriving at the maximum security Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo last spring.
Weinstein maintains his innocence and contends that any sexual activity was consensual.
This is a developing story. Check back later for further updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.