The Harvey Weinstein saga seems to be heading to a close soon (at least one of them), where the defense of Harvey Weinstein has placed their closing argument.
Weinstein's defense, Donna Rotunno implored a New York jury on Thursday to exonerate the former movie mogul, arguing that his accusers have shirked responsibility for their own actions.
Rotunno used her closing argument to urge jurors to set aside any prejudice they may have against Weinstein, and to rely instead on their “New York City common sense.” She argued that the women who allege that Weinstein sexually assaulted them were embarrassed about having used the movie producer to advance their own careers.
“In their universe, women are not responsible for the parties they attend, the men they flirt with, the hotel room invitations, the plane tickets they expect, the jobs they hope to obtain,” Rotunno said. “In this universe, they aren’t even responsible for sitting at their computers and emailing someone across the country… In this script, the powerful man is the villain and he is so unattractive and large that no woman would want to sleep with him.”
Weinstein is facing five counts of rape, criminal sex acts, and predatory sexual assault, and could face life in prison if convicted. Rotunno spoke to a packed and hushed courtroom in downtown Manhattan, where throngs of media had assembled in the early morning hours to get seats. Dozens of members of the public were denied entrance, but huddled just outside the courtroom, eager to find out what was going on behind closed doors. Among those in the audience was Rotunno’s father. As her client looked on with rapt attention, Rotunno returned to a theme that she has struck in interviews ahead of the trial, suggesting that the #MeToo movement had gone too far. She said that prosecutors had portrayed Mann and Haley as lacking “autonomy” or “common sense.”
“What are we doing to women?” she asked. “Women have choices.”
Addressing Haley’s allegations first, Rotunno pointed to an email that Haley sent Weinstein in 2008, in which she signed off, “Lots of love.”
“She cared because they had a flirtatious relationship,” she said. “She cared because she was using him for jobs.”
She also noted that Haley is represented by Gloria Allred, and suggested that Haley intends to file a lawsuit. “Civil lawyers give scripts to their clients so that they don’t have to admit to you that they’re looking for money,” Rotunno said.
“Of course you have doubt,” she continued. “How could you not?”
Shortly before Rotunno began her remarks, Justice James Burke asked Weinstein if he was certain about his decision not to testify in his own defense, noting that the movie producer had told media he had wanted to share his side of the story.
“Yes, your honor,” Weinstein said.