Prosecutor makes closing arguments in Harvey Weinstein rape case

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The prosecutor in Harvey Weinstein’s trial says the disgraced Hollywood producer thought he was a ‘master of the universe’ who could rape with impunity and believed his accusers were ‘complete disposables’.

In her closing statements on Friday, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzi told jurors over three hours that Weinstein had counted on his accusers never coming forward and that he considered one accuser, Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, a threat because of her fame. 

‘He was a master of his universe and the witnesses were merely ants he could step on without consequence,’ Illuzi said of Weinstein. ‘He felt like he had a surefire insurance policy that the witnesses were standing in line to get into his universe.’

‘The universe is run by me and they don’t get to complain when they get stepped on, spit on, demoralized and, yes, raped and abused by me – the king,’ Illuzzi said, mimicking Weinstein. 

‘The defendant not only ran roughshod over the dignity and the very lives of these witnesses but he also underestimated them.’ 

The prosecution suggested that Weinstein was turned on by the fear in his alleged victim’s eyes. 

‘Let’s face it, the defendant didn’t have to trick women into his lair. There are professional sex workers you can get without tricking… but maybe his kink was the fear in their eyes.’ 

Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013. In addition to the two main accusers, four additional women – including Sciorra, were called to testify as witnesses to bolster the case against him. 

Illuzzi’s closing comes a day after the defense offered an epic, hourslong closing argument painting the prosecution’s case as a ‘sinister tale’ and the allegations as ‘regret renamed as rape’. 

Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013

During closing arguments, the prosecution suggested that Weinstein (above leaving court on Friday) was turned on by the fear in his alleged victim's eyes

During closing arguments, the prosecution suggested that Weinstein (above leaving court on Friday) was turned on by the fear in his alleged victim’s eyes

Using a TV monitor next to the jury box, the prosecutor displayed photos of Sciorra – accused Weinstein of raping her in her apartment in the early 1990s – and the five other accusers who also testified. 

Illuzzi told jurors that aside from the more successful Sciorra who Weinstein considered a threat, the others were ‘complete disposables’. 

‘These other woman, they were never going to be in his world,’ she said. 

‘All of these women on the screen, it’s as if they are there together but they’re not. When you consider why they didn’t tell, why they had future contact with him, why they continued to speak nicely to him.

‘Remember that none of these women knew about each other.

‘That’s the hallmark of a predator; isolate, isolate, isolate because then they feel like they are the only one.

‘When you’re the only one and he’s a giant, not only in his own industry, but he’s somebody who gets presidents on the phone and he’s talking to A-listers — people you’ll never meet in your entire life — you’re really hesitant,’ she said, adding that his alleged victims just wanted to ‘keep the peace’.  

The prosecutor argued that there was a pattern of the accusers – especially Mann and Haleyi – being made to feel humiliated and stupid by Weinstein.

‘He wants to get them in a situation where they feel stupid and if they feel stupid and belittled…belittled and stupid people don’t complain. They don’t stick up for themselves and they sure as hell don’t complain about their shame in a public place,’ she said. 

The prosecutor referenced Weinstein’s physical deterioration since the allegations surfaced, saying: ‘When Harvey Weinstein did this he looked quite different than he does today. (The victims) were scared, they felt isolated and they were alone.’ 

In closing arguments, the prosecutor said Sciorra’s life and career prior to the alleged rape was ‘really good’. Illuzi hit out at the defense’s claim a day earlier that Sciorra only came forward with her allegation to become relevant again in the MeToo era.

The prosecutor said that Sciorra having to tell ‘the whole world’ that she had cut herself in the aftermath of the alleged rape did the opposite.

‘Do you think that’s a career booster? Do you think people with projects and movies are going to want that connected to whatever film they want Annabella in? Really?’

Addressing the rape allegations, Illuzi said Weinstein may have had a ‘grand plan’ to get Sciorra.  She detailed how Weinstein had dropped Sciorra at her home after a night out with Uma Thurman before circling back 30 minutes later.  

In her closing statements on Friday, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzi (above in court sketch pointing to Weinstein) told jurors that Weinstein had counted on his accusers never coming forward

In her closing statements on Friday, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzi (above in court sketch pointing to Weinstein) told jurors that Weinstein had counted on his accusers never coming forward

Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi will deliver her closing arguments on Friday in Weinstein’s rape trial

Weinstein arrived in court on Friday with his attorney Donna Rotunno who told jurors on Thursday that prosecutors in the rape case against the producer were acting like moviemakers, conjuring up a world ‘where women had no free will’

The prosecutor said Weinstein waited for Sciorra to get ready for bed and had assumed she would have been weak from taking a Valium.

‘Instead of a groggy weak Annabella he found a quite sober Annabella when he went back to her,’ Illuzi said.

When Sciorra didn’t report the alleged attack to police, the prosecutor claims Weinstein began to ‘circle’ back to ‘hit her again’.

Illuzzi showed a side-by-side comparison of Sciorra’s testimony about confronting Weinstein in the mid-1990s after he allegedly raped her and similar testimony by Mann about how the mogul reacted when she told him she had a boyfriend in 2013.

‘His eyes went black and I thought he was going to hit me right there,’ Sciorra testified. With the click of a button, Mann’s testimony popped up: ‘His eyes changed and he was not there. They were very black and he ripped me up.’

The prosecutor said: ‘This is literally 23 years apart, women who have never met each other and the facts that are so detailed… this is the way you are experiencing that these women experienced.’

Illuzi said that Weinstein began a ‘campaign to get his grips on her one more time but she was stronger’. 

The prosecutor focused on Haleyi’s allegations that Weinstein took out her tampon and forcibly performed oral sex on her in his Soho apartment in 2006 as she countered a defense argument that his accusers had a choice. 

‘When an adult goes to another adult’s home, should they expect that they have to engage in sex?’ the prosecutor asked. ‘By going to Harvey Weinstein’s home, did she deserve what she got?’

Illuzi said Haleyi had gone to his apartment that night to keep a good relationship with him.

‘She wasn’t going to Harvey Weinstein’s apartment to have sex with Harvey Weinstein. She was going there to be professional. Is that consent? Is that consent to have sex? Is it a blurred line? There are no blurred lines here and this is a case of a wanton disregard for other people, that a woman unescorted could go to a man’s apartment and suffer a sexual assault,’ she said. 

‘If you have to trick somebody to be with you it’s not consent. If you intend to forcibly subject somebody to sexual contact, that’s when you have to trick them into your lair.’

Turning to rape accuser, Mann, the prosecutor said Weinstein offering her a part in the Vampire Academy film even though it had already been cast was ‘part of his trick’ to lure her in. 

Mann testified that she got into an ‘extremely degrading’ relationship with Weinstein after he allegedly forcibly performed oral sex on her.  

Illuzi acknowledged that Mann’s decision to keep seeing Weinstein would be considered ‘ridiculous’ for some jurors to understand. 

‘The question is not whether she made a bad decision. The question for you is whether Jessica Mann is lying about it… if she’s telling the truth she’s the victim of rape,’ the prosecutor said. 

Addressing Mann’s testimony that she found a needle in the bathroom after Weinstein allegedly raped her in 2013, Illuzi showed the jury the producer’s guest profile from a different hotel in which the cleaner had warned to watch out for needles.    

Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra

Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra

In addition to the two main accusers, four additional women – including Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, were called to testify as witnesses to bolster the case against him 

Harvey Weinstein arrives at court in New York on Friday to hear the prosecution's closing arguments in his rape trial

Harvey Weinstein arrives at court in New York on Friday to hear the prosecution’s closing arguments in his rape trial

The prosecution argued that the six accusers ‘didn’t come forward for a beauty contest’ but rather so they could have a chance to be heard. 

‘They sacrificed their dignity and their privacy and peace for the prospect of having that voice heard,’ Illuzi said.  

In response to defense claims that Haleyi and Mann were opportunists who had consensual sex with Weinstein because they thought it would help their careers, prosecutors are seeking to focus the jury’s attention on accusers’ harrowing accounts alleging rapes, forced oral sex, groping, masturbation, lewd propositions and casting couch experiences. 

Several of his accusers testified that Weinstein ignored pleas of ‘no, no, no’ as he assaulted them. Mann said he would turn violent when he couldn’t get his way and that the word no was like a trigger for him. 

Another woman recalled Weinstein sneering: ‘You’ll never make it in this business, this is how this industry works’ when she laughed off his advances.   

Having the last word before jurors hear instructions and start deliberating on Tuesday, prosecutors must also answer some of the defense’s knocks on their case. 

Chief among them: that the two women Weinstein is charged with attacking were opportunists who willingly latched on to the once-powerful producer and acquiesced to sex with him because they thought it would help their careers. 

The prosecution’s task has been complicated because the women he’s charged with assaulting didn’t abandon Weinstein after the alleged encounters. 

But Illuzzi said that part of his scheme was to keep in contact with them so he could point to those encounters as evidence nothing happened, essentially ‘preparing for a moment just like this.’ 

Case in point, she said: In October 2017, Weinstein replied to an email from a publicist giving him a heads up that Sciorra was about to go public in a Ronan Farrow story by writing: ‘Annabella did cop land.’

Instructing his publicist on how to respond to the article, Weinstein wrote: ‘This was consensual or deny it.’

‘I submit to you that was a confession,’ Illuzzi told jurors over the defense’s denied objection. 

Jessica Mann

Mimi Haleyi

Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013 

Weinstein’s lawyer slams his accusers’ credibility in rape trial closing arguments 

Weinstein’s lawyer told jurors on Thursday that prosecutors in the rape case against him were acting like moviemakers, conjuring up a world ‘where women had no free will.’

‘In the alternative universe that prosecutors have created for you, Harvey Weinstein is a monster,’ lawyer Donna Rotunno said in her closing argument. 

She said he’s an innocent man relying on jurors not to be swayed by a ‘sinister tale’. Rotunno argued that prosecutors had to come up with a damning story about the once-powerful movie producer because they don’t have the evidence to prove the charges.

‘The irony is that they are the producers and they are writing the script,’ Rotunno said.

‘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.’

Rotunno said 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. 

She told the jury: ‘In the alternative universe the prosecution have created for you Harvey is a monster, he’s unattractive, he’s overweight. They showed you naked photographs of him. Ask yourself why? To do nothing more than shame him.’ 

His lawyer faces the tricky task of convincing the 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. 

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. The prosecution are set to begin their case on Friday

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. The prosecution are set to begin their case on Friday 

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. 

Under cross-examination, she said she had not been forced. She acknowledged sending several friendly emails to Weinstein in the following years.  

The defense, in closing arguments, cast doubt on Haleyi’s version of her alleged assault and accused her of using Weinstein for jobs.   

‘They had more of a relationship than she wanted you to know because she was using him for jobs… but she can’t tell you that because then the rest of her actions don’t make sense,’ Rotunno told jurors. 

‘(She) is lying about the nature of her interactions with Harvey Weinstein or she’s telling the truth and she agrees to go to his home anyway. Either way it should raise serious doubts as to her credibility.’  

Rotunno said the emails offered ‘real-time evidence’ of what happened between Weinstein and the women. 

She pointed to the 2007 message from Haleyi asking how Weinstein was doing and signing off with ‘lots of love’ – the year after he allegedly sexually assaulted.

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

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 SIX WOMEN WHO TESTIFIED AGAINST HARVEY WEINSTEIN 

Jessica Mann: Alleged rape, 2013

Mann, 34, alleges Weinstein trapped her in a Manhattan hotel room, angrily ordered her to undress as he loomed over her and then raped her before they were to meet her friends for breakfast on the eve of his 61st birthday.

She alleges Weinstein raped her again several months later at a Beverly Hills, California, hotel. She said she isn’t sure if she’ll pursue charges there.

The one-time aspiring actress testified for three days, more than any other accuser, and broke down crying in the middle of an exhaustive cross-examination. Why, the defense asked, did the woman maintain a relationship with Weinstein – one that included consensual sexual encounters – for an extended period of time after she says she was raped?

After the woman lost her composure, and was heard screaming in a side room, the judge sent jurors home for the day. When she returned to the stand, she said her relationship with Weinstein was complex, but defiantly declared: ‘He is my rapist.’

Mimi Haleyi: Alleged sexual assault, 2006

Haleyi, now 42, alleges Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her at his SoHo apartment after he got her a job as a production assistant on the Weinstein-produced Project Runway.

‘I was kicking, I was pushing, I was trying to get away from his grip,’ she testified. ‘He held me down and kept pushing me down to the bed.’ She told jurors she thought she was being raped and wondered, ‘If I scream rape, will someone hear me?’

Haleyi said she and Weinstein had sex at a hotel two weeks later. She said she didn’t want to be intimate, but didn’t think Weinstein forced her to have sex. Weinstein’s lawyers have suggested that episode is evidence he didn’t coerce her during the first encounter, either.

Those episodes followed a May 2006 encounter at the Cannes Film Festival where Haleyi says he asked her to give him a massage. She said he also insisted she go with him to the Paris fashion shows, which she repeatedly declined.

Annabella Sciorra: Alleged rape, late 1993 or early 1994 

Prosecutors allege he raped Sciorra in late 1993 or early 1994 – an accusation that is too old to be the basis for criminal charges on its own.

Sciorra, 59, was the first accuser to testify.

In a quivering voice, she told the jury that the burly Weinstein barged into her apartment after they attended a dinner with actress Uma Thurman and other industry figures, threw her on a bed and forced himself on her as she futilely kicked and punched him.

She said about a month later, she ran into him and confronted him. She said he replied, ‘that’s what all the nice Catholic girls say’ and then leaned toward her and added menacingly: ‘This remains between you and I.’

Tarale Wulff: Alleged rape, 2005 

Wulff, now 43 and a model, testified that Weinstein raped her at his SoHo apartment between May 2005 and July 2005 after luring her there with a ruse of reading a script for a movie.

She said she froze as he attacked her, thinking that would make it ‘easier to get through, to get past it.’ Wulff also said that before the alleged rape, he accosted her at a night club where she was waitressing, led her to a hallway and started masturbating. Weinstein is not charged with a crime related to Wulff.

Dawn Dunning: Alleged groping, 2004  

Dunning, also called as a witness to testify about Weinstein’s pattern of behavior with women, testified that he put his hand up her skirt and fondled her genitals during what was supposed to be a meeting about her fledgling career in his hotel suite in 2004, when she was 23. 

She says he later tried trading movie roles for three-way sex with him and his assistant. Dunning, now 40, said that when she laughed off that proposition, Weinstein told her, ‘you’ll never make it in this business, this is how this industry works.’

Lauren Marie Young: Alleged groping, 2013

Young, now 30, was the last accuser take the witness stand. She testified that Weinstein stripped naked groped her breast and masturbated in the bathroom of his Beverly Hills hotel room days before the Oscars in February 2013. 

She said went to the room with Weinstein and his friend, a Mexican model, to continue a conversation they’d been having about her career. 

Her allegations are the subject of a criminal charge filed against Weinstein in California on January 6, just as his New York trial was getting underway. He isn’t charged in New York in connection with his dealings with Young. 

‘Not an email you send to your sexual assaulter, even in the world they want to create,’ Rotunno told jurors. ‘This is where you need to say, ‘Wait a minute – do I have doubt about the story she’s telling?’ How could you not?’ 

‘The government will tell you emails don’t matter. In what other circumstance would real time evidence not matter?’ 

Rotunno said that if somebody sent a kidnapper an email saying ‘thanks for the holiday!’ it would be relevant.

She said prosecutors were trying to take a consensual sexual encounter and ‘spin it into something else’, thereby ‘stripping women of any ability to make their own decisions’.  

Weinstein’s lawyers have argued that the two women’s interactions with Weinstein after the alleged attacks show that their encounters were consensual. 

Rotunno claimed that his other accuser, Mann, was blocked from accusing Weinstein in Los Angeles due to the statute of limitations so she came up with the ‘only time she was with Harvey in New York’ and said it was rape. 

‘Even if you believe every word she said, it doesn’t rise to the level of rape. She does not say that she said no and that she tries to push him off. She said no and she gets naked and lies on the bed,’ she said.  

Rotunni also drew on Mann’s prior claims she found a syringe in the bathroom after the alleged rape, which she testified she thought he had injected into his penis to get an erection. 

‘If she was as fearful as she claimed to be about the needles, wouldn’t you go get an STD test? Not one of these women that you’ve heard from over the course of four weeks has said ‘I didn’t call the police or my friend by I went and had a test’.’  

Rotunno said Mann’s emails with Weinstein, as well as trial testimony from two of her friends at the time, indicated that she did not appear distressed after the alleged rape, undermining her story.

She said Mann ‘couldn’t keep anything straight’ under cross-examination.  

Rotunno hit out at the accusers, claiming they all just wanted to get something from him: ‘Every single one of these women reaches out and asks for things and he does anything he can do to make it happen.’ 

 



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