Harvey Weinstein's attorneys say they will appeal his rape and sexual assault convictions 'as soon as possible'

Associated Press/Seth WenigHarvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan courthouse for jury deliberations in his rape trial, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in New York.
  • Harvey Weinstein’s defence attorneys announced Monday they intend to immediately appeal his convictions of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act.
  • A jury found the Hollywood producer guilty of forcing oral sex on a woman in 2006 and raping another woman in 2013.
  • Weinstein faces up to 29 years behind bars, including a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison on the criminal sexual act conviction and a maximum of four years on the rape conviction.
  • The defence team said they intend to raise issues in their appeal around the jurors and the jury selection process, as well as the inclusion of three witnesses in the trial who were unrelated to the charges.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Harvey Weinstein intends to appeal his convictions of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act “as soon as possible,” his defence attorneys said Monday.

A jury found Weinstein guilty of forcing oral sex on the former production assistant Mimi Haley in 2006 and raping the hairstylist Jessica Mann in 2013.

“We’ll absolutely be appealing. The fight is not over,” defence attorney Donna Rotunno told reporters in a press conference outside the Manhattan courthouse. “Harvey is very strong; Harvey is unbelievably strong. He took it like a man, and he knows that we will continue to fight for him, and he knows that this is not over.”

Weinstein now faces a maximum of 25 years in prison on the criminal sexual act conviction and a maximum of four years in prison on the rape conviction.

Harvey weinsteinAssociated Press/Craig RuttleHarvey Weinstein arrives at the courthouse during jury deliberations in his rape trial, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in New York.

He was acquitted of the most serious charges he faced: two counts of predatory sexual assault and one count of first-degree rape. He could have faced a sentence of life in prison for the predatory sexual assault charges if convicted.

Rotunno said in her press conference she didn’t want to comment on her thoughts on the trial until after the appeal process was over. But she and her colleague Damon Cheronis told Insider in a statement there were “issues in this trial that were extremely troubling, and they prejudiced Mr. Weinstein’s ability to have his case fairly judged.”

Rotunno was likely referring to the countless motions her team made before and during the trial that were denied by Justice James Burke – including one last-ditch attempt to have a juror removed from the trial last week.

Weinstein’s defence team will likely raise questions over the jury’s fairness and the witnesses permitted to testify

Arthur Aidala, another of Weinstein’s attorneys, told media the defence team intends to raise issues around the jurors and the jury selection process, as well as the complicated verdict sheet that jurors had raised questions about during their deliberation.

Lara Yeretsian, a California-based criminal defence attorney who reviewed the verdict sheet for Insider, expressed surprise at the document jurors were given. She said the form was “confusing to me as an attorney, let alone a jury.”

The sheet listed five felony counts against Weinstein but issued a number of labyrinthine instructions on how the jury should proceed, including which charges the jury should skip or continue onto based on their verdicts for the predatory sexual assault charges.

Donna rotunno harvey weinsteinGetty Images/Jeenah MoonHarvey Weinstein and his lawyer Donna Rotunno arrive at New York City Criminal Court on January 21, 2020 in New York City.

“The defence should raise that on appeal because the jury may have been confused into thinking that they had to find him guilty on the two charges they found him guilty on in order to acquit him of the more serious charges,” Yeretsian said.

The defence team also made multiple complaints throughout the trial about one juror who had written a novel about “predatory older men,” whom they argued would not treat Weinstein fairly.

That same juror came under scrutiny on February 19 after she posted a review on Goodreads about the novel “My Dark Vanessa,” which the defence team argued was also about “predatory older men,” according to Vulture.

Burke denied the defence’s motion to replace the juror with an alternate.

Aidala added on Monday that his team would also argue against the trial’s inclusion of three accusers whose allegations against Weinstein were unrelated to the criminal charges and did not result in criminal charges of themselves.

Arthur aidala donna rotunnoAssociated Press/John MinchilloAttorneys Arthur Aidala and Donna Rotunno wait to speak to reporters outside a Manhattan courthouse after her client, Harvey Weinstein, was convicted in his rape trial, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in New York.

The model Tarale Wulff, former actress Dawn Dunning, and model and writer Lauren Young all testified in court that they met with Weinstein under the pretense of business meetings, only to be allegedly groped or even raped when they arrived.

Those witnesses, known as “Molineaux witnesses,” were permitted to testify about “prior bad acts” involving Weinstein. Prosecutors sought to use their testimony to establish a pattern of Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct.

Pennsylvania prosecutors successfully used the same strategy during the 2018 retrial of Bill Cosby, where he was charged with sexually assaulting one woman but faced testimony from five other accusers.

Yeretsian told Insider all the Molineaux witnesses called by the prosecutor were an “overkill” and good cause for Weinstein’s attorneys to appeal the convictions.

“Without those witnesses and the #MeToo movement, the prosecution would have had an uphill battle in proving the charges,” she said. “Basically, the prosecution case was weak and without the prior bad acts witnesses they would not have gotten the guilty verdicts.”

Weinstein is set to be sentenced on March 11, and Burke ordered him remanded to the Rikers Island jail in the meantime. He faces a different criminal case in Los Angeles, where prosecutors have charged him with rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force, and sexual battery by restraint.

Weinstein also faces a number of civil lawsuits by dozens of women who have accused him of various forms of sexual misconduct. Late last year, Weinstein’s team reached a tentative $US25 million settlement that would resolve most of the lawsuits against him, without requiring Weinstein to admit wrongdoing.

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