Disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein could have his 2020 rape conviction face a retrial or dismissed altogether after the 70-year-old was granted an appeal Wednesday by the New York State Court of Appeals.
Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in a New York state prison after a jury convicted him of committing a criminal sex act and rape in the third degree in February 2020. He was later acquitted of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault from charges that stemmed from accusations made about incidents in the mid-1990s.
Authorities sentenced him to 23 years in jail.
Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who signed off on the decision and is set to step down at the end of August, granted Weinstein a criminal leave application. Once the attorneys for the former Hollywood executive producer file briefs, the top court will hear Weinstein’s arguments on whether or not he deserves a new trial, according to NBC.
Attorney Arthur Aidala told NBC News that he updated Weinstein, who stands by his innocence in the conviction.
“We are grateful that Chief Judge DiFiore acknowledged the unique legal issues in this case and we are hopeful the entire court will find that Mr. Weinstein did not receive a fair trial and reverse his conviction,” Aidala said.
Doug Wigdor, who represented some of the victims at trial, called Weinstein “a desperate man,” according to NBC News. However, he said that the court will “ultimately reject his appeal and affirm the appeal court’s well reasoned decision affirming the trial court’s conviction and sentence.”
Weinstein maintains that he is “innocent of these charges.”
“I am so grateful to my attorneys for working hard and smart on this,” Weinstein said in a statement to ABC News. “Their hard work will help me prove my innocence in the end. I look forward to this opportunity to be heard by The New York Court of Appeals.”
A spokesman for Weinstein said in a statement to ABC News that the court’s decision “demonstrates that there is, in fact, merit to the appeal.”
“There was plenty wrong with the trial and conviction and Harvey’s attorneys will do what is needed to prove his innocence of the charges,” the spokesman said.
Weinstein’s lawyers submitted an appeal of their client’s conviction, stating various reasons why they believe Weinstein was not given a fair trial and is entitled to a new one, including allowing too many witnesses unrelated to the sex assault charges.
“Weinstein’s trial was overwhelmed by excessive, random, and highly dubious prior bad act evidence, none of which shed light on disputed issues relevant to the charged offenses,” Weinstein’s lawyers wrote.
Lawyers also argued the one of jurors should have been removed for previously writing a fictional book that included predatory older men.
“Juror No. 11 was unqualified to sit as a juror, notwithstanding any promise by her to be fair. In addition, based on the imminent publication of her book, she had a pecuniary motive to convict the defendant,” the lawyers wrote.
At 166 pages, the legal document lays out the lawyers’ arguments, stating that the trial court that put Weinstein in jail was too “cavalier.”
Weinstein is currently held at a Los Angeles jail while awaiting trial.
Charlotte Pence Bond contributed to this report.