Harvey Weinstein’s conviction for sex crimes overturned

Harvey Weinstein’s conviction for sex crimes overturned April 26, 2024

When news first broke back in 2017 that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein had been accused of repeatedly harassing and sexually abusing women across three decades, it shocked many of those outside the industry and sparked the #metoo movement. By the time he was convicted three years later, a great deal had changed within both Hollywood and the general public regarding how such allegations were handled.

The impact of Weinstein’s indictment and eventual conviction is part of why many found it so troubling when, yesterday morning, New York’s highest court of appeals decided to overturn that conviction. The 4–3 verdict was hotly contested, but the majority eventually concluded that the judge in the original trial erred by allowing witness testimony from women whom Weinstein had previously assaulted but whose accusations were not part of the charges he faced. In so doing, they argued that he prejudiced the jury against Weinstein in a way that was beyond the bounds of the law.

However, before we rush to judgment, a few key details are worth noting:

  • The verdict does not exonerate Weinstein, and Manhattan’s district attorney—Alvin Bragg Jr.—has promised to launch a new trial in the near future. That said, it’s unclear when that trial would commence since he is currently occupied with the 34 felony counts his office has brought against former President Donald Trump.
  • Despite the ruling, Weinstein will remain in prison for now. In addition to the original conviction in New York, a court in California also found him guilty of rape. He was set to serve that sixteen-year sentence after his twenty-three-year sentence in New York was complete—though few expected him to survive long enough to ever see a jail on the West Coast.
  • Still, Weinstein’s lawyers hope that Thursday’s verdict will help them overturn that conviction as well, with hearings in California set to begin on May 20.

God is wrathful because God is love

Ultimately, it’s unclear what impact—if any—the New York court’s verdict will have on Harvey Weinstein’s life or legacy. Most have already made up their minds about him and the general reaction of repulsion and disbelief among those not on Weinstein’s payroll has been relatively uniform.

Those emotions are part of why, when I first started seeing headlines about Weinstein’s conviction being overturned, my initial reaction was to avoid the story altogether. After all, the idea he could go free because the courts essentially brought too much evidence against him is difficult to stomach.

If I’m honest, that’s still how I feel. And that’s alright.

Sin, especially sin that devastates its victims to the extent of the sexual predation for which Weinstein was originally found guilty, should turn our stomachs and make us long for justice. However, it can be easy to forget that God sees all of our sins in that way.

That’s not to say that the practical consequences of stealing a pack of gum or cursing when you stub your toe compare with the damage wrought by abuse and violence. But every sin takes us further from our perfect God, so he is right to judge them. And that too is a good thing.

As Miroslav Volf once described:

Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a god who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.

And when we can come to see our sin as God does, it becomes much easier to strive for the kind of perfection to which we are called (Matthew 5:48).

Conversation or confrontation?

This week, much of our focus has been on the culture’s rejection of objective truth and morality. And while that is true in many facets of our society, the response to Weinstein’s conviction—both at his initial trial and now that it’s been overturned—stands as a good reminder that at least some common ground for morality still exists.

At the end of the day, most people do not want to live in a world without objective truth. And we can use stories like these to remind them of that fact, so long as we do so in a way that seeks conversation rather than confrontation.

Confrontation is often the default in our culture, which makes the humble desire for a conversation stand out all the more. And while there are times when God can use both, looking for that common ground upon which we can build a dialogue is typically a better place to start.

While the Holy Spirit will ultimately help you decide, it’s typically easier to move from conversation to confrontation than the other way around.

So the next time God gives you the opportunity to share his truth, which approach will you choose?

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