Could Harvey Weinstein Really Walk Free In A Few Months?

For decades, he was untouchable. Movie producer Harvey Weinstein moved in circles that included the country's Hollywood and Washington elite. His eye for a good script, the right director, and the perfect cast earned him more than three hundred Oscar nominations (via The New Yorker). But producer Harvey Weinstein had secrets too. For decades, he was accused of sexual harassment by numerous womenUSA Today lists 87 accusers — which meant it would only be a matter of time that the storied producer would be put away if it was found that he had stepped over the line. 

That moment happened when Weinstein was convicted of the third-degree rape of his former hairstylist Jessica Mann, who says Weinstein raped her in 2013 at a hotel in New York. He was also found guilty of criminal sexual acts in the first degree for forcing himself on former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley (via Deadline). 

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance (known to many for his cases against the Trump Corporation) celebrated the verdict at the time, calling it "a new day because Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for crimes he committed. The women who came forward courageously and at great risk made that happen."

But now it appears Vance — and Weinstein's accusers — may have celebrated prematurely, because a New York appeals court could well overturn the convictions that have Weinstein serving 23 years in prison.

New York Appeals judges could let Harvey Weinstein go free

Appeal judges have been questioning the testimony which was used during the trial. The judges felt that testimonies which took part in the trial might have been "overkill" in condemning Weinstein for other actions, instead of showing that he committed the offenses he was accused of. As Justice Judith Gische put it, "He doesn't get convicted because he's a bad guy. He gets convicted for these particular crimes" (via Variety).

After the hearings, defense co-counsel Damon Cheronis said the team was "very happy [and] very hopeful, based on the appellate court's questioning, that they see this case for what it is, that evidence that should have never been brought before this jury infected the trial and made it impossible for Mr. Weinstein to get a fair trial."  Other lawyers have pointed out that just because the justices asked questions a certain way didn't mean that they were prepared to order a new trial. Still, defense attorney Michael Bachner says that "The New York State court is not bashful about overturning convictions, even in high profile cases."

But even though the two New York convictions are thrown out and a retrial is ordered, Weinstein still faces 11 other charges of rape and sexual assault. If the New York convictions are overturned, Weinstein can only hope to be released on bail. He is currently being held at Los Angeles' Twin Towers Correctional Facility, and is expected to be tried on the other sexual assault charges next summer.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).