Harvey lawyer: Case is fiction written by the DA
Hollywood filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, the oft-accused poster boy for the #MeToo movement, was the victim of a scripted prosecution where a half-dozen accusers collaborated to portray the Oscar winner as a sex-crazed beast, his lawyer argued Thursday in closing arguments.
“In the alternative universe that the prosecutors have created for you, Harvey Weinstein is a monster,” said defense attorney Donna Rotunno in her blistering defense of the hulking producer. “He’s unattractive, he’s overweight. They showed you naked photographs of him. Ask yourself why.
“To do nothing more than shame him.”
Rotunno, in her take-noprisoners address, suggested attorney Gloria Allred and her client, Weinstein accuser Miriam Haley, were motivated by financial gain more than justice in the Manhattan prosecution of the man behind the movies “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love.”
“She doesn’t sit here because it’s fun for her,” said Rotunno, gesturing at the well-known Allred in the front row of the Manhattan courtroom. “She sits here because she knows there’s a pot of gold for her at the end of this trial.”
Rotunno (inset) even went as far as alleging that Emmywinning actress Annabella Sciorra of “The Sopranos” was only called as a witness to give prosecutors some “star power,” and suggested the film star concocted her tale of rape by Weinstein to thrust herself back in the spotlight.
“She’s changed her memory, and now she’s been raped,” said Rotunno, wearing a black dress as she spoke to the jurors. “She’s the darling of the movement of the minute.”
Sciorra, through tears, recounted how she was raped inside her Manhattan apartment by Weinstein back in 1993-94. She is one of roughly 90 women to come forward with charges of inappropriate sexual behavior by the defendant, whose trial involves charges related to just two of those accusers.
Rotunno, at the end of her five-hour address to the jury, urged the panel to acquit her client. Weinstein, 67, faces possible life in prison if convicted of the top charges of rape and sexual abuse of the pair who told their stories under oath.
Prosecutors will make their case Friday, with the jury expected to begin deliberations this coming Tuesday. Rotunno came after prosecutors with guns blazing, dismissing the case as a phony courtroom production.
“The irony is that ADAs, in this case, are the producers and they are writing the script in this story,” said Rotunno. “They are creating a universe in which they’re stripping adult women of common sense, autonomy and responsibility. In their universe, women are not responsible for parties they attend, the men they flirt with, the choices they make for their own careers, the hotel room invitations and plane tickets they accept.
“… In this script, the powerful man is so unattractive and large that no woman would ever want to sleep with him voluntarily.”
Weinstein, producer of “The King’s Speech,” gave his lawyer’s performance a rave review: “I loved it. The queen’s speech, that’s what is was.”
The crux of the case remains the testimony of Weinstein accusers Haley and Jessica Mann, who both took the stand to recount their allegations against the once-acclaimed mogul.
“We’ve heard from many witnesses in this case,” Rotunno said. “In the end, it only comes down to those two, and if you don’t believe Miriam Haley or Jessica Mann, you don’t have to evaluate anything else.”
A weeping Haley testified that Weinstein held her down and performed oral sex on her despite repeated requests for him to back off. Mann, while acknowledging she had a complicated relationship with Weinstein that included consensual sex, tearfully recounted how the heavyweight producer twice raped her in 2013.
Rotunno urged the Manhattan jury of seven men and five women to find her client innocent, even if their own reputations take a hit from an acquittal.