Sponsor Says Fix for Weinstein’s Loophole Is “Dead” in the NYS Assembly

The New York State Capitol building in Albany. Photo: Darren McGee/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

As the New York State legislative session draws to a close, it seems unlikely that a bill will be passed to close a legal loophole that led to the overturning of former movie mogul Harvey’s rape conviction Weinstein. The Assembly sponsor of the measure says it could lead to more rapists and child molesters not facing justice.

In April, the state’s highest court overturned Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction. In a 4-3 decision, the Court of Appeals judges ruled that the prosecution had rejected the testimony of three women, who also said that Weinstein sexually assaulted them. had abused, should not have recorded because the alleged incidents were not part of the charges against him in the trial.

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin is the sponsor of a bill that would end what’s known as the “Weinstein loophole.” It would change the laws to allow evidence of prior sex crimes to be admitted in sexual assault trials to show that the person charged might have a propensity to commit the crime.

The legislation was approved in the Senate, but Paulin told reporters that the bill does not have enough support among majority Democrats to pass.

Paulin says without the solution, more sexual abusers will go free.

“I was devastated because I believe that without this change, serial rapists in New York will not be convicted as easily as they should be, which would create a problem for women in particular to be raped,” Paulin said. “And for me that is very problematic.”

Defendants’ rights groups, including the Legal Aid Society, oppose the measure, saying it is too broadly written and could lead to wrongful convictions and negatively impact Black and Latino New Yorkers.

Paulin says some progressive members of the General Assembly agree with these groups. She says other opponents want to wait until 2025 to think more about the issue and craft a better bill.

The legislation, as well as other key issues at the end of the session, are discussed at party conferences behind closed doors, so there is no public record of what is said.

Governor Kathy Hochul said Tuesday she believes the Legislature should agree to and approve a solution before they leave for the summer.

“The Legislature needs to do something, yes,” Hochul said.

Paulin says Hochul, however, has not been involved in an effort to bring the Senate and Assembly together to agree on one bill.

“I would love her input and direct involvement on this bill,” Paulin said. “We need it.”

The Manhattan district attorney plans to retry Weinstein on rape charges as early as September. If the bill does not pass, he will have to operate under the Court of Appeals ruling and will not be able to add testimony from others who say Weinstein committed similar acts.

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