Weinstein rape case is in the jury’s hands. Get caught up on the trial

A jury of seven men and five women began deliberations in New York Tuesday in the Harvey Weinstein rape and sexual assault trial. 

The 67-year-old former movie mogul faces five felony charges — including predatory sexual assault, rape and criminal sexual assault — which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.  

Prosecutors argued that even though the case included only charges related to two accusers, they were the victims of a clear pattern of behaviour. 

Weinstein has been accused by more than 80 women over the past two years of being a serial harasser and sexual predator. His accusers include Hollywood actors Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek and Rosanna Arquette. 

Here’s a look at how the six-week trial played out: 

The alleged victims

Miriam Haley, who previously went by the name Mimi Haleyi, is a former TV and film production assistant. On Jan. 27, she testified that she legally changed her name to Miriam Haley, in part because of the intense interest in her around the Weinstein case.

She alleges Weinstein forced oral sex on her at his home in 2006.

Jessica Mann was an aspiring actor when she says she met Weinstein at a party in 2012 or 2013. She alleges he raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013.

The charges

Weinstein was tried on five charges:

  • Predatory sexual assault (two counts, one each involving Haley and Mann).
  • Criminal sexual assault in the first degree (involving Haley).
  • Rape in the first degree (involving Mann).
  • Rape in the third degree (involving Mann).

“Molineux” witnesses

In some cases, including the Weinstein trial, a judge can allow what are called “prior bad act” witnesses, or Molineux witnesses.

In this case, prosecutors used the testimony of actor Annabella Sciorra to bolster the two charges of predatory sexual assault. Sciorra’s allegations fell outside the legal statute of limitations for prosecution, and jurors were told they cannot convict Weinstein on the two counts based solely on Sciorra’s testimony. 

The judge also allowed the testimony of three other women to help establish the pattern of abuse — aspiring actors Dawn Dunning and Tarale Wulff, and model Lauren Young — who all said Weinstein sexually assaulted them. Weinstein was not charged in relation to their accusations. 

What the prosecution said

Assistant district attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon contended that Weinstein considered himself such a big shot that he believed he could get away with treating women as “complete disposables.”

“The universe is run by me, and therefore, they don’t get to complain when they are stepped on, spit on, demoralized and, yes, raped and abused by me — the king,” Illuzzi-Orbon said, mimicking Weinstein.

What the defence said

The defence argued that Weinstein’s accusers chose to have sexual relations with Weinstein in order to advance their careers. 

Lawyer Donna Rotunno accused the prosecution of acting like moviemakers, conjuring up a world “where women had no free will.”

Donna Rotunno, Harvey Weinstein’s attorney, accused the prosecution of conjuring up a world where women have no free will. (Richard Drew/The Associated Press)

“The irony is that they are the producers and they are writing the script,” she said, urging the jury to not buy into “the story they spun where women had no free will.”

“In their universe, women are not responsible for the parties they attend, the men they flirt with, the choices they make to further their own careers, the hotel room invitations, the plane tickets they accept, the jobs they ask for help to obtain,” or the messages they send, Rotunno said.

What Weinstein says

Weinstein did not testify in his own defence. He has always said publicly that any sexual encounters he had were consensual.

Notable quotes

“I’m being raped.” 

— Miriam Haley, telling jurors what went through her mind as Weinstein allegedly forced oral sex on her.

“I couldn’t get away from him at all, let alone get away. I checked out and decided to endure it. That was the safest thing I could do.”

— Miriam Haley, describing being allegedly assaulted by Weinstein.

“The more I fought, the angrier he got, and then his anger scared me, so I tried to calm him down.” 

— Jessica Mann, describing trying to fight off Weinstein’s advances.

 “He said, ‘you’ll never make it in this business, this is how this industry works.'”

– Dawn Dunning, relaying Weinstein’s reply to her when she refused to agree to engage in a threesome with him and his assistant in return for a contract

Read more at CBC.ca