NATIONAL NEWS

Harvey Weinstein due back in court, while a key witness weighs whether to testify at a retrial

Apr 26, 2024, 3:06 PM | Updated: 5:00 pm

Harvey Weinstein will appear in a New York City court next week, the first step in potentially retrying the film mogul after his 2020 rape conviction was overturned.

New York’s highest court on Thursday threw out Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction, ordering a new trial. The Manhattan district attorney’s office has said it intends to pursue a retrial, but gave no indication about the agenda for Wednesday’s hearing.

“We will do everything in our power to retry this case, and remain steadfast in our commitment to survivors of sexual assault,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement Friday.

Meanwhile, a woman Weinstein was sent to prison for sexually assaulting said Friday she is considering whether she would testify at any retrial.

Mimi Haley said she is still processing Thursday’s decision by the state Court of Appeals and is considering numerous factors, including the trauma of having to prepare for another trial and again relive what happened to her.

“It was retraumatizing and grueling and exhausting and all the things,” she said during a news conference with her attorney, Gloria Allred. “I definitely don’t want to actually go through that again. But for the sake of keeping going and doing the right thing and because it is what happened, I would consider it.”

Weinstein was convicted in New York in February 2020 of forcing himself on Haley, a TV and film production assistant, in 2006 for oral sex and raping an aspiring actress in 2013.

The Associated Press does not generally identify people alleging sexual assault unless they consent to be named and Haley has agreed to be named.

Weinstein, 72, will remain in prison because he was convicted in Los Angeles in 2022 of another rape. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison in that case.

Thursday’s Court of Appeals court ruling in New York essentially resets Weinstein’s case, with next week’s hearing the first step in the process of potentially retrying him. Prosecutors will work off the same indictment, albeit excluding the charges he was acquitted of four years ago.

Among other things, authorities will need to sort out where Weinstein is incarcerated while he awaits a new trial in New York. He could be sent to the city’s notorious Riker’s Island jail complex, or to California to begin serving a sentence for his conviction there.

Allred said the New York decision shows how important it was to also bring charges in California, even when critics called that prosecution superfluous.

Weinstein’s attorney, Arthur Aidala, did not immediately respond to an email seeking a response to Haley’s comments. But on Thursday he called the state Court of Appeals ruling “a tremendous victory for every criminal defendant in the state of New York.”

The court overturned Weinstein’s 23-year sentence in a 4-3 decision, saying “the trial court erroneously admitted testimony of uncharged, alleged prior sexual acts” and permitted questions about Weinstein’s “bad behavior” if he had testified. It called this “highly prejudicial” and “an abuse of judicial discretion.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Friday that her office is analyzing the scale of the decision and how the state can make sure that all women feel safe coming forward.

“I don’t want this to be a moment of stifling the environment that was created where finally we were calling out people who were abusing women in their presence,” Hochul said. “We don’t want to have any setbacks where there’s this sense that you now have to be silenced, and that’s something that we have to protect.”

Allred said she welcomed the governor’s comments and likely would be suggesting possible legislation. She said she’s concerned that the ruling will lead to fewer cases being brought, especially against high-profile defendants.

“Then there will be not only no access to justice for the ‘Me too’ witnesses, prior bad-act witnesses, but in addition for the actual victim of the crime…where it could have been prosecuted, would have been prosecuted otherwise,” she said.

Haley said she has talked to other alleged victims of Weinstein about the ruling, but the subject of testifying again did not come up.

“What would make me want to do it again would just be, like I said in the past, this isn’t just about me,” she said. “It’s a really important case. It’s in the public eye. It’s really difficult for me personally, but it’s important for the collective.”

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Associated Press writer Anthony Izaguirre contributed to this story from Albany, New York.

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Harvey Weinstein due back in court, while a key witness weighs whether to testify at a retrial