This is unfair – Ashley Judd on Harvey Weinstein’s conviction being overturned

Actress Ashley Judd has described it as “unfair to survivors” after a court overturned Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 conviction for rape.

Double Jeopardy star Judd, who was among the first women to make allegations on the record against Weinstein, is also a campaigner on women’s rights.

While sharing an article that stated that Weinstein’s 23-year sentence for rape had been overturned in an Instagram story, Judd wrote: “This is unfair to survivors. We Live In Our Truth. We know what happened.”

Ashley Judd cannes 2004
Ashley Judd was among the first women to make allegations against Harvey Weinstein (Anthony Harvey/PA)

Hollywood producer Weinstein is still in prison after being sentenced to 16 years for rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles last year.

Judd previously alleged she thought she was attending a breakfast hotel meeting in 1997, while filming the thriller Kiss The Girls, when he began pressuring her to give and receive massages and to watch him shower.

In a bid to get out of the bathroom, she claims she resorted to striking a deal with him that she would say yes to his advances when she won an Oscar for one of his films.

Speaking at a press conference in New York City on Thursday, Judd said: “This today is an act of institutional betrayal.

Burberry Prorsum Arrivals – London Fashion Week 2014
Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 16 years in jail last year (PA)

“And our institutions betray survivors of male sexual violence, and we need to work within and without the systems to start having what is known as ‘institutional courage’.”

Activist Tarana Burke, who started the #MeToo movement, also spoke at the event and said: “Many people, many survivors and those who love and support survivors probably thought that that original verdict meant that there was going to be a change, that it marked a change, marked a difference in how this justice system was going to move and operate.

“And I think that we felt, and a lot of us felt, that we were on a road to seeing a different America. And this moment makes it feel like we were wrong.”

She added: “What does this mean for the MeToo movement?”

“I want you to hear this. This is not a blow to the movement. It is a clarion call. And we are prepared to answer that call.”

Allegations against Weinstein, the once powerful and feared studio boss behind such Oscar winners as Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare In Love, ushered in a global #MeToo movement in 2017, where women across the world shared stories of their own experiences with sexual assault.

In 2019, the United States District Court in Los Angeles dismissed a sexual harassment claim made by Judd against Weinstein in which she said he defamed her, damaging her career.

The 91st Academy Awards – Vanity Fair Party – Los Angeles
Tarana Burke, an activist who started the MeToo movement (Ian West/PA)

Mira Sorvino, who previously made allegations against Weinstein and won an Oscar for Mighty Aphrodite, tweeted that she was “disgusted” at the justice system and “horrified”.

During a press conference, Weinstein’s lawyer Arthur Aidala called the Court of Appeal’s ruling “a great day for America”.

“It may sound like an exaggeration but it’s not, today’s legal ruling is a great day for America because it instils in us the faith that there is a justice system,” he said.

The majority decision by the Court of Appeal in New York read that “the trial court erroneously admitted testimony of uncharged, alleged prior sexual acts against persons other than the complainants of the underlying crimes” and this was “an abuse of judicial discretion”.

A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office told the PA news agency: “We will do everything in our power to retry this case, and remain steadfast in our commitment to survivors of sexual assault.”