Harvey Weinstein calls accuser a ‘brazen liar’ in New California call

Just one month after his New York sex crimes conviction was overturned, film producer Harvey Weinstein filed an appeal to overturn his Los Angeles conviction. He contends the jury improperly heard about uncharged sexual assaults and claims he was not allowed to present evidence that would have shown his accuser was a “blatant liar.” The brief was filed on Friday.

Weinstein is accused of using his position as a powerful Hollywood film producer to sexually assault women (more than 80 women have accused him of assault and abuse). He has denied the allegations, calling all sex consensual.

Weinstein was convicted of one count of rape and two counts of sexual assault in a Los Angeles court in 2022 and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Evgeniya Chernyshova, a former actress and model, testified during the trial that Weinstein appeared uninvited in her hotel room during the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2013 and raped her. She was known only as Jane Doe 1 during the trial and later revealed her identity publicly.

Although Weinstein was also convicted of sex crimes by a New York court in 2020, that conviction was overturned in late April after Weinstein appealed, saying he did not receive a fair trial.

In the Los Angeles appeal, Weinstein claims the jury should not have heard about his 2020 New York rape and sexual assault conviction, which was overturned, or evidence of several other uncharged sex offenses.

In the appeal, Weinstein’s lawyers also argue that the judge erred in preventing him from presenting the jury with Facebook messages indicating that Chernyshova and the festival’s founder, Pascal Vicedomini, had a sexual relationship. “As the prosecution and the court eventually acknowledged, Facebook communications between JD1 and Vicedomini revealed that before, during, and after the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, they were engaged in a romantic/sexual relationship. Yet both witnesses affirmatively and repeatedly mischaracterized their relationship as nothing more than a friendship,” his appeal describes.

Weinstein’s appeal claims the messages allegedly demonstrated that the two witnesses committed perjury by stating that they were just friends and colleagues. Additionally, it would have supported the defense argument that Chernyshova was with Vicedomini at the time of the alleged attack. During the initial trial, the prosecution claimed that Vicedomini invited Chernyshova to the film festival for Weinstein’s sexual benefit. The appeal argues that proof of the relationship between Vicedomini and Chernyshova would weaken this claim.

Although Weinstein claims that Chernyshova and all the women who accuse him of rape are lying, the prevalence of false claims of sexual assault is quite low. According to the National Center for Research on Sexual Violence, only between two and ten percent of sexual assault allegations are false. Since a vast majority of sexual assaults are never reported, some suggest that, including all rapes, only 0.005% result in false allegations.

Even though the vast majority of sexual assault victims tell the truth, sexual assault cases remain extremely difficult to prosecute. According to statistics from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), out of 1,000 sexual assaults, 975 perpetrators will be released. According to their data, based on the Department of Justice’s annual National Crime Victims Survey, only 310 out of 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. Of these, only 50 result in an arrest, only 28 are convicted and only 25 will be incarcerated. They do not provide statistics on people released on appeal.

Regarding Weinstein’s chances of winning his appeal, both sides are confident. “Weinstein’s appeal repeats the same tired arguments that he has already made repeatedly, unsuccessfully, in the trial court,” Chernyshova’s lawyer, David Ring, told the Associated Press. “We firmly believe that the trial court considered the evidence appropriately and made all the correct determinations in its evidentiary rulings. We are confident that Weinstein’s appeal will be rejected and he will spend many years in prison,” Ring added.

On the other hand, Weinstein’s publicist, Juda Engelmayer, sees things differently. “This appeal demonstrates nearly a dozen areas of egregious legal missteps that violated his right to a fair trial,” Engelmayer told NBC News. “We know he has a strong record,” she added.

For more on the appeal, see The People of the State of California v. Harvey Weinstein, case number B327696, in the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District.