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More than two years after his rape conviction, Harvey Weinstein is granted an appeal

"We are hopeful the entire court will find that Mr. Weinstein did not receive a fair trial and reverse his conviction,” a lawyer for the disgraced former movie mogul said.

Once-powerful Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was granted an appeal Wednesday, more than two years after he was convicted of third-degree rape and another crime.

The ruling, from Janet DiFiore, the chief judge of the State Court of Appeals, clears the way for oral arguments next year before the entire court, a court spokesman said.

Weinstein's attorney, Arthur Aidala, said his client was grateful for the decision, which Aidala said "acknowledged the unique legal issues in this case."

Image: Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at New York Criminal Court for his sexual assault trial in the Manhattan borough of New York City.
Harvey Weinstein arrives at New York Criminal Court in New York City for his sexual assault trial on Feb. 20, 2020. Jeenah Moon / Reuters

"We are hopeful the entire court will find that Mr. Weinstein did not receive a fair trial and reverse his conviction," Aidala said.

Weinstein said again Wednesday that he is innocent.

"I am so grateful to my attorneys for working hard and smart on this," he said in a statement through his spokesman. "Their hard work will help me prove my innocence in the end."

Weinstein was convicted in February 2020 of committing a criminal sexual act in the first degree and third-degree rape. He was sentenced to 23 years in state prison.

A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office declined to comment about the appeal. 

The full court could either affirm the lower court's decision and uphold the conviction or reverse the decision and vacate his conviction. The court could also order a new trial or modify his conviction by upholding some charges and vacating others.

The conviction stemmed from allegations made by two women, former aspiring actress Jessica Mann and a former "Project Runway" model Mimi Haley.

Weinstein was acquitted of two counts of predatory sexual assault, a crime that carried a possible life sentence, and one count of first-degree rape.

Gloria Allred, Haley's attorney, said in a statement that she and her client "hope that his conviction is upheld by the New York Court of Appeals but if a new trial were to be granted, Mimi will continue to be courageous, and she will testify again."

More than 80 women accused Weinstein, an Oscar-winning producer, of sexual assault and harassment. In Los Angeles County, he was charged last year with 11 counts of rape and sexual assault. He pleaded not guilty.

Weinstein is in a Los Angeles jail awaiting a trial scheduled to start October 10. Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday's ruling will have no impact on those proceedings.

"It is unfortunate that his New York victims won’t have the finality that they deserve; however, we remain steadfast and committed to seeking justice for the women harmed by Mr. Weinstein’s alleged predatory actions in Los Angeles," he said in a statement.

Caitlin Dulany, an actress who has accused Weinstein of sexual assault, said in a phone interview that the news about the disgraced producer's appeal was "really hard for survivors."

"To go through this kind of stuff, the justice system just fails us all the time. It just constantly puts us on trial. Bill Cosby is a free man right now because his conviction was overturned," Dulany said. "It's sort of terrifying."

Douglas Wigdor, an attorney who represented eight Weinstein victims, including two at the criminal trial, said in a statement he was confident the appeal would ultimately be rejected.

“Weinstein is a desperate man but we are confident that New York’s highest court will ultimately reject his appeal ... affirming the trial court’s conviction and sentence,” Wigdor said.

An attorney for Alexandra Canosa, a producer who has accused Weinstein of sexual and physical assault over a five-year period, said the ex-mogul's "claims of innocence" were "insulting to all the survivors."

"I am hopeful that the Court of Appeals will affirm the well reasoned decision of the Appellate Division and end this farcical crusade to exonerate this evil man and finally give closure to the survivors," said the attorney, Thomas P. Giuffra.