NEW YORK CITY: The historic trial of Harvey Weinstein is in its final days in Manhattan’s Supreme Court and the movie mogul’s defense attorney is pulling out every card to keep her client out of prison. In her closing argument, Donna Rotunno encouraged a seven-man, five-woman jury to have the “courage” to “do the right thing” by acquitting Weinstein of sexual assault and rape charges.
“In the alternative universe that the prosecutors have created for you, Harvey Weinstein is a monster, he’s unattractive, he’s overweight,” she began. “[In this] universe, women are not responsible for the parties they attend, the men they flirt with, the choices they make to further their careers, the hotel room invitations and the plane tickets they accept. In this script, a powerful man is the villain, and he is so unattractive and large that no woman would ever want to sleep with him voluntarily.”
But it was one line in particular that was really weird – and off. “Tiger Woods is a sex addict. You don’t see him in a criminal courtroom,” Rotunno said. “Being a sex addict and being a rapist are two different things.”
It’s been two years since The New York Times and The New Yorker broke the story of decades of allegations of sexual assault, harassment and rape brought against Weinstein. While more than 80 women have come forward with stories of encounters with him, the focus of this particular case has been a lot more narrow.
The movie mogul faces felony charges for allegedly raping one unidentified woman inside a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcing a non-consensual sex act on a female assistant in 2006. The predatory sexual assault charge against Weinstein is especially significant as it carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. In the state of New York, this charge is considered as serious as murder.
Weinstein faces four counts of that charge, along with one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape.
The 67-year-old, who is currently free on bail and who has arrived visibly dishevelled and hunched over a walker every day post-back surgery, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
More to come.