Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer has told his New York rape trial jury that he is ‘just another human being’ and said prosecutors had created a universe where women were not responsible for choices they make to further their careers.
In her closing arguments on Thursday, lawyer Donna Rotunno told jurors the case against the disgraced Hollywood producer was unproven and urged them to use their ‘New York City common sense’ to find him not guilty.
The defense lawyer, who has taken heat from #MeToo supporters for her advocacy for the former movie mogul, said it was ironic that prosecutors were the producers and they were writing the script for Weinstein’s trial.
‘Their story created a universe where adult women have no autonomy and responsibility… women are not responsible for parties they attend, for choices they make to further their own career… for sitting at their computers for sending emails to someone across the country,’ she argued.
Rotunno argued that in the prosecution’s version: ‘The powerful man is the villain and is so unattractive that no woman would want to sleep with him voluntarily.’
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013 and to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006.
A lawyer for Harvey Weinstein is expected on Thursday to urge a New York jury to acquit the former Hollywood producer of sexual assault as the weeks-long trial against him comes to a close
Before the closing statements began, Judge James Burke repeatedly asked Weinstein if he was ‘absolutely certain’ he didn’t want to testify. Weinstein responded: ‘Yes your honor’.
His lawyer faces the tricky task of convincing a Manhattan jury that there are too many inconsistencies and contradictions in the testimony of six Weinstein accusers who took the witness stand to convict her client.
Weinstein, whose lawyers informed the court on Tuesday that he wouldn’t testify, has maintained any sexual encounters were consensual.
In often emotional testimony stretching over three weeks, Weinstein’s accusers described in lurid detail how he lured them to hotels in New York and Los Angeles on the pretense of promoting their acting careers before sexually assaulting them.
The defense argued in closing arguments that the prosecution had woven ‘a sinister tale of a man who searched out his victims by putting them through a series of tests’ but that story was not supported by evidence.
Mann testified that Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room early in what she called an ‘extremely degrading’ relationship with him and that it continued for years and included consensual sex.
Rotunno, during cross examination, presented her with numerous affectionate emails she sent the producer after the alleged rape, including one in which she wrote: ‘I love you, always do.’
Haleyi testified that Weinstein forced oral sex on her in his home in 2006. Some time later, she said, she went to see him in a hotel in an effort to ‘regain some sort of power.’ Weinstein pulled her onto a bed and had sex with her, Haleyi testified.
Haleyi said she ‘went numb’ during the encounter and did not want to have sex with Weinstein. Under cross-examination, she said she had not been forced. She acknowledged sending several friendly emails to Weinstein in the following years.
During closing arguments, Rotunno said the emails Haleyi sent Weinstein after he allegedly assaulted her showed there had been no assault.
‘The government will tell you emails don’t matter,’ Rotunno said. ‘In what other circumstance would real time evidence not matter?’
Weinstein’s lawyers have argued that the two women’s interactions with Weinstein after the alleged attacks show that their encounters were consensual.
His lawyer, Donna Rotunno, faces the tricky task of convincing a Manhattan jury that there are too many inconsistencies and contradictions in the testimony of six Weinstein accusers who took the witness stand
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013 and to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006
To bolster the prosecution case, four additional women were called by prosecutors, including actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in the early 1990s.
Rotunno put up a list of all the women whose names had come up with the trial. They were all grayed out apart from Mimi Haleyi and Jessica Mann – the two main accusers.
The defense said that they were the only cases that mattered and if the jury didn’t believe them they should acquit.
Rotunno’s closing argument comes less than a week after she came under fire on social media for a podcast interview in which she blamed victims for getting sexually assaulted.
Rotunno told The New York Times’ The Daily she’d never been attacked ‘because I would never put myself in that position.’
In court, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon questioned the timing of the interview and rebuked Rotunno for calling the prosecution’s witnesses ‘liars.’
‘That was taped a long time ago,’ Rotunno interrupted, claiming that she hadn’t talked to anyone in the media since the case began.
She was later contradicted by a Times spokeswoman, who told reporters the interview was recorded on January 28 – five days after opening statements and the start of testimony.
In the defense’s closing arguments, Weinstein’s lawyer urged jurors to only consider the cases of Mimi Haleyi (right) and Jessica Mann (left) – the two main accusers. The defense said that they were the only cases that mattered and if the jury didn’t believe them they should acquit