Harvey Weinstein was a serial rapist who used his status as a Hollywood power broker to prey on women, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi told jurors on Friday. Illuzzi began her closing argument, one that will help determine whether or not Weinstein goes free or spends the rest of his life in prison, with a question.
“What is this case about? Is it about the power, manipulation and abuse — is it merely about the power of abuse?” Illuzzi asked.
“Or is it that the defendant was the master of his universe and the witnesses here were merely ants that he could step on? Or did he feel like he had a surefire insurance policy that the witnesses wanted to get into his universe?” Illuzzi continued. “They don’t get to complain when they’re stepped on, spit on, demoralized and then, yes, raped and abused by the defendant.”
The prosecutor then mounted an attack on a central component of Weinstein’s defense — that his victims had maintained contact with their alleged rapist after their attacks. This was, Illuzzi argued, part of a larger strategy to discredit his victims.
“He also underestimated them,” Illuzzi said. “He made sure he had contact… to make sure that one day they wouldn’t call him for exactly what he was: an abusive rapist. Well, he was wrong.”
Popular on Variety
A very animated Illuzzi theatrically spoke to the jury about the predatory and abusive patterns Weinstein displayed throughout numerous women’s allegations across several decades.
The prosecution called six women to testify about their alleged assaults, but the case rests largely on the allegations of two of them: aspiring actress-turned-hairdresser Jessica Mann, and former “Project Runway” production assistant Miriam Haley. Mann alleges that she was trapped in a predatory relationship with Weinstein, and accuses him of raping her at a DoubleTree Hotel in Manhattan in March 2013. Haley has accused Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her at his apartment in Soho in 2006. Actress Annabella Sciorra was also called to testify about her alleged rape at the hands of Weinstein. Although her claims fall outside of the statute of limitations, prosecutors believed she would bolster their case and establish a pattern of behavior. Weinstein’s attorneys have attempted to discredit Sciorra, claiming she used the allegation to revive her flagging career.
Illuzzi spoke about Sciorra’s rape allegations for a full hour, contradicting yesterday’s arguments made by the defense, telling jurors, “Annabella’s event is very much part of the crimes charged here.”
Referencing reporting from journalist Ronan Farrow, Illuzzi said that Weinstein hired Black Cube, a private intelligence firm, to dig up dirt on Sciorra and not other victims because he was worried that her celebrity status would discredit him.
“Why do you think?” said Illuzzi. “This is simple. It’s really quite simple. These ladies are all the complete disposables. Annabella is in his industry. Annabella is having dinner and talking to Uma Thurman and she dated Gary Oldman… These other women, they were never in his world, they were never going to be in his word, they’re never going to be strong enough, bold enough or brave enough to tell. But Annabella? Hmm. Someone might believe her.”
On Thursday, Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s attorney, painted a starkly different portrait of the former mogul. She claimed that Weinstein’s accusers were trying to evade responsibility for their actions and were being dishonest about their relationship with the producer. Rotunno argued that both Mann and Haley had used Weinstein to advance their careers, pointing to affectionate emails they sent the producer after the alleged assaults.
“What are we doing to women?” she asked. “Women have choices.”
Weinstein’s trial is being closely watched by Hollywood. The accusations against the indie mogul provided the spark that inspired an industry-wide reckoning, one that led to allegations of misbehavior against such powerful figures as Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, Les Moonves, Charlie Rose, and Louis C.K. The case against Weinstein is seeing as a key test for the #MeToo movement, demonstrating whether or not these misdeeds will have criminal consequences.
More to come.
Source: Read Full Article