New York High Court Overturns Convictions Of Serial Rapist Harvey Weinstein

In a crushing blow to the “Me Too” movement, and victims of sexual assault everywhere, on April 25, 2024, the New York Court of Appeals overturned the sexual assault convictions of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.  In a heated and hotly divided 4-3 split decision (with two female justices sitting it out, or abstaining) the majority held that the trial judge abused his discretion, and deprived Weinstein of a fair trial, when he admitted the testimony of just three (out of more than 100) prior victims of Weinstein’s sexual assault to prove his criminal intent, and refute his contention that the sex was consensual, if not a transactional opportunity for the victims to advance their careers.

While Justice Jenny Rivera’s majority decision is critical of the trial judge, three points bear emphasis.  First, unlike her dissenting colleagues, she had no prior prosecutorial experience whatsoever.  By contrast, Justice Singras, who wrote a scathing dissent, was a career prosecutor, who actually prosecuted sex crimes.  She was joined by Justice Michael Garcia, who was the former chief federal prosecutor (U.S. Attorney) for the Southern District of New York. Perhaps the majority should have shown some deference to their colleagues who actually had prosecutorial experience.

Second, the vote here was actually 9 to 4 against Weinstein. Weinstein lost at the trial court; Weinstein lost unanimously at the intermediate appellate court 5-0; and Weinstein only won at the Court of Appeals by a 4-3 vote.  Consequently, although the decision has a devastating impact on victims of sexual assault, where Weinstein actually lost the judge count 9 to 4, the Court of Appeals majority decision lacks numeric, legal, and moral authority.

Third, the nine judges who ruled against Weinstein did not concoct or misconstrue some novel rule of law. In fact, the reversal of Weinstein’s conviction is not only contrary to New York State law, but also is contrary to federal law.  Congress passed a rule of evidence that explicitly permits prior evidence of sexual assault, in cases like Weinstein’s, where the defendant is accused of sexual assault.  See Federal Rule of Evidence 413(a). This is not rocket science that requires 40 pages to justify, as the so-called “majority” opinion attempts.

Finally, at the same time, it was reported that the FBI entered into a $138 million settlement, with Olympic gymnasts, and scores of other young women who were sexually assaulted by perv doctor Larry Nassar.

This begs the question, when our leading criminal investigators at the FBI ignore or dismiss numerous credible allegations of sexual assault against the same predator, and our top court tips the scales of justice in favor of a serial rapist, why bother?!

The headlines of 2024 suggest that we have made no progress.  Almost.

Jean Carroll obtained an $83 million civil judgment against Donald Trump for having assaulted her in a dressing room in a toney department store in New York City. In a civil lawsuit, the sexual assault victim has several tactical advantages compared to the criminal process: (1) the victim does not have to prove her allegations beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the victim does not have to contend with the legal fiction that the serial sexual predators are presumed innocent; (3) the victim is represented by a lawyer of her choosing who is dedicated exclusively to her case; (4) the victim does not require a unanimous verdict of 12 jurors (5 out of 6 is sufficient for a civil verdict in New York); and (5) as Ms. Caroll’s case demonstrates, the victim is actually capable of obtaining substantial monetary damages.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, contact the Law Office of Todd J. Krouner, P.C.  We have a proven track record of helping victims of sexual assault obtain justice, and recover substantial monetary damages, in civil lawsuits.  To determine if you have a strong case, contact us for a free consultation at (914) 238-5800.