New York's highest court on Thursday overturned disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's 2020 conviction on sex crime charges - a shock reversal in the landmark case that launched the #MeToo movement.

In their 4-3 decision, judges cited errors in the way the trial had been conducted, including admitting the testimony of women who were not part of the charges against him.

"Order reversed and a new trial ordered," the ruling said.

"The accused has a right to be held to account only for the crime charged and, thus, allegations of prior bad acts may not be admitted against them for the sole purpose of establishing their propensity for criminality," wrote Judge Jenny Rivera, in an opinion for the majority.

"The court compounded that error when it ruled that defendant, who had no criminal history, could be cross-examined about those allegations as well as numerous allegations of misconduct that portrayed defendant in a highly prejudicial light."

Weinstein, 72, was convicted in February 2020 of rape and sexual assault by a court in New York, and later sentenced to 23 years in prison.

It was not immediately clear what would happen to Weinstein, who is being held at the Mohawk Correctional Facility in Rome, New York state.

He was subsequently convicted and sentenced by a Los Angeles court to an additional 16 years in prison for the rape of a woman in a Beverly Hills hotel room, to be served after the first sentence.

Bombshell allegations broke against the Academy Award-winning producer in 2017, launching the #MeToo movement and paving the way for hundreds of women to fight back against sexual violence in the workplace.

'Thwarts gains of survivors'

"With today's decision, this Court continues to thwart the steady gains survivors of sexual violence have fought for in our criminal justice system," Judge Madeline Singas, who dissented against the ruling, said.

"Forgotten are the women who bear the psychological trauma of sexual violence and the scars of testifying again, and again."

Before the allegations against him emerged, the producer and his brother Bob were Hollywood's ultimate power players.

They co-founded Miramax Films, a distribution company named after their mother Miriam and father Max, in 1979. It was sold to Disney in 1993.

Their hits included 1998's "Shakespeare in Love," for which Weinstein shared a best picture Oscar. Over the years, Weinstein's films received more than 300 Oscar nominations and 81 statuettes.

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