Judge Shreds Harvey Weinstein Conviction Reversal in Scathing Dissent: ‘New York’s Women Deserve Better’

“This court has continued a disturbing trend of overturning juries’ guilty verdicts in cases involving sexual violence,” Judge Madeline Singas writes 

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A New York appeals court judge wrote a scathing dissent to the majority decision to overturn Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction, arguing that the court failed to understand the nuances of the sexual assault case and writing that “New York’s women deserve better.”

New York’s top court overturned Weinsten’s 2020 conviction on felony sex crime charges on Thursday, in a shocking reversal. The New York State Court of Appeals found that the trial judge who handed Weinstein’s case “erroneously admitted testimony of uncharged, alleged prior sexual acts,” allowing information to be presented that prejudiced the jury. 

In her dissent, Judge Madeline Singas writes that “Fundamental misunderstandings of sexual violence perpetrated by men known to, and with significant power over, the women they victimize are on full display in the majority’s opinion.”

“By whitewashing the facts to conform to a he-said/she-said narrative, by ignoring evidence of defendant’s manipulation and premeditation, which clouded issues of intent, and by failing to recognize that the jury was entitled to consider defendant’s previous assaults,” Singas continued, “This court has continued a disturbing trend of overturning juries’ guilty verdicts in cases involving sexual violence.”

Singas added that while she joins Judge Cannataro in dissent from the majority opinion to overturn the conviction, she wrote her dissent separately in order to “highlight how the majority’s determination perpetuates outdated notions of sexual violence and allows predators to escape accountability.”

The New York Judge slammed the court’s decision to rule that evidence of Weinstein’s previous sexual assaults was “irrelevant to this case.”

“While the majority’s holding may, at first glance, appear to endorse a utopic vision of sexual assault prosecution in which a victim’s word is paramount, the reality is far bleaker,” Singas wrote. “Critically missing from the majority’s analysis is any awareness that sexual assault cases are not monolithic and that the issue of consent has historically been a complicated one, subject to vigorous debate, study, and ever-evolving legal standards.”

“By ignoring the legal and practical realities of proving a lack of consent, the majority has crafted a naïve narrative: that within the most fraught and intimate settings, intent is readily apparent, and issues of consent are easily ascertained,” Singas said. “This conclusion deprives juries of the context necessary to do their work, forecloses the prosecution from using an essential tool to prove intent, ignores the nuances of how sexual violence is perpetrated and perceived, and demonstrates the majority’s utter lack of understanding of the dynamics of sexual assault.”

“Because New York’s women deserve better,” Singas concluded. “I dissent.”

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