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Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers claim he was denied fair trial in appeal of LA rape conviction



Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers argue in an appeal that he did not get a fair trial when he was convicted of rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles in 2022 and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

The brief filed Friday with California’s Second District Court of Appeal comes six weeks after his similar landmark #MeToo conviction and 23-year prison sentence in New York were overturned by the state’s highest court.

The California appeal argues the trial judge wrongly excluded evidence that the Italian model and actor he was convicted of raping had a sexual relationship with the director of a film festival that had brought both Weinstein and the woman to Los Angeles at the time of the alleged attack.

Weinstein’s lawyers argued that the judge deprived him of “his constitutional rights to present a defense and led to a miscarriage of justice.”

The attorneys say the judge was wrong to allow jurors to know about Weinstein’s previous, now-vacated conviction in New York, and that the jury was unfairly prejudiced by testimony from women about alleged assaults Weinstein was not charged with.

Similar testimony led to his overturned conviction in New York, where the 72-year-old is being held as Manhattan prosecutors plan to retry him.

“The introduction of this excessive, cumulative, and remote evidence of prior ‘sexual assaults’ simply signaled to the jury that the Defendant was a bad man who should be convicted of something irrespective of whether the prosecution proved its case,” the filing said.

At his California trial, Weinstein was charged with sexually assaulting four women, but a jury convicted him of an attack on just one, Evgeniya Chernyshova, who testified that Weinstein appeared uninvited at her hotel room during the LA Italia Film Festival in 2013.

Weinstein’s lawyers argue that Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench was wrong to prevent his defense from showing the jury Facebook messages that showed Chernyshova and the festival’s founder, Pascal Vicedomini, had a sexual relationship.

The messages would have shown that both were perjuring themselves when they testified that they were only friends and colleagues, the brief argues. They also would have bolstered defense arguments that the woman was not even in her hotel room but was with Vicedomini at the time of the alleged attack.

The arguments are similar to those made by Weinstein’s attorneys in a motion for a new trial that Lench rejected before his sentencing.

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