Closing Arguments: Harvey Weinstein the victim? Or serial sexual predator?
On Tuesday 18 February, the jury will begin their deliberations. They will decide.
On Thursday 13 February, the court heard from Donna Rotunno, Harvey Weinstein’s lead lawyer, in her closing statement.
Rotunno slammed women for putting themselves in the positions they did and then slammed the prosecutors for writing and producing a script ‘to get’ Harvey Weinstein, the victim of a targeted social justice movement.
She went as far to say due to the movement women have been allowed to evade responsibility for their actions, allowing them to retroactively decide that sexual encounters they regret have crossed the line into outright assault.
Rotunno told the jurors that the prosecution “wove a sinister tale of a man who searched out his victims by putting them through a series of tests” but insisted that the narrative was not supported by the evidence.
“The irony is that they are the producers and they are writing the script,” Rotunno said of the prosecution, adding, according to Variety: “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. In this universe, they aren’t even responsible for sitting at their computers and emailing someone across the country.”
“You don’t have to like Mr Weinstein,” she told them. “This is not a popularity contest.”
She asked members of the jury to use their common sense when coming to a decision.
Joan Illuzzi-Orbon had the last word as she closed on Friday 14 February, somewhat ironic that it was Valentine’s Day.
She told the jury that Weinstein ‘made sure he had contact with the people he was worried about….to make sure they wouldn’t walk out of the shadows and call him exactly what he was: an abusive rapist.’
He didn’t only abuse and rape the women, he threatened them.
In her closing argument, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon called Weinstein “the master of his universe,” and described the six women who have accused him of rape and sexual assault as “ants that he could step on.”
“It is a complete dichotomy,” she continued. “Here is a defendant with everything, using and abusing people he knows have nothing.”
Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said Weinstein kept in contact with the women to control and isolate them.
She outlined the ways in which the narratives of abuse were strikingly similar: interactions with Weinstein that oscillated between validating and humiliating. Weinstein’s Jekyll and Hyde personality and his trickery and entrapment.
“When you have to trick somebody to be in your control,” Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said, “then you know that you don’t have consent.”
My Two Cents: It’s called power and control. The pattern of isolation, validation and humiliation, a Jekyll and Hyde personality, an unreal world created by the perpetrator of contradiction, confusion, fear and entrapment?
Yes, this all sounds like coercive control.
And here’s a newsflash Donna Rotunno et al.
A woman can flirt with a man and not get raped.
A man can flirt with a woman and not want to rape them.
A woman can wear a short skirt and go out. She is not saying ‘rape me.’
And a woman can kiss a man and does not have to consent to sex because she kisses said man.
To suggest that all men are rapists and should not be trusted is grossly insulting to men.
This is vintage sexism and victim blaming of the highest order. It may work on a small stage – and let’s face it, it has worked well for Donna Rotunno – to date.
40 cases defending men accused of sex crimes, and getting them acquitted (bar one), got her to this place.
But she dodged the narrative about Harvey’s fall from grace, why he fell from his God-like status to ‘unpopular’, as she put it. This is a gross distortion and minimisation of the facts and what he stands accused of.
Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexually abusing, coercing and raping women for decades. The count is 105, but I expect it to be far higher in reality.
He’s been bullying men and women to bend at his will for decades. And threatening people. And ruining careers.
And I haven’t even mentioned the morality issues – that he was married and has five children. They too have to live with the legacy of his behaviour. And it is not about sinning. It is far worse.
But the way a man treats the woman he is supposed to love and cherish, who he took a vow to honour, is a very good indicator in my book.
Donna Rotunno’s D-game was in full force during the closing – discredit and blame the women, distract and deny.
Rotunno attempted to flip the script. The women are the problem and Harvey is a poor innocent, unattractive bystander caught up in this web of scheming and manipulation, she says.
Poor Harvey. How rotten this must be for him. He hobbles into court every day, in his ill fitting suits, looking unkempt and old.
That’s the poor me syndrome script that’s been carefully crafted, way before this trial even began.
It’s intentional and has been played on throughout the trial. And Rotunno’s closing statement, her piece de resistance, ties it all together with a few extra bells and whistles regarding STD testing.
STD testing was never a question the victim’s had to answer throughout the trial. But that didn’t stop Rotunno in her close. This was a special bit of Rotunno spaghetti throwing, in the desperate hope that it might distract and stick.
Put the victim’s on trial, flip the script and attempt to illicit sympathy from the jury for the ‘unpopular,’ ‘the fallen’, ‘the underdog.’
This script is tried and tested by most criminal defence lawyers when it comes to rape, domestic violence and stalking cases.
And this is Rotunno’s tradecraft after all, and quite frankly, she’s good at it. She knows exactly what she needs to do.
There is one small fly in the ointment.
Harvey Weinstein is not the victim.
Powerful men are not the victims.
In reality, it is women who are blamed at every turn for male violence, even in their own murders and rapes. They are the ones who are shamed, blamed and judged, the unpopular, the fallen, the true underdogs.
This is the world we have been living in to date. This has been the reality.
Up until Bill Cosby.
The case continues on Tuesday, when Judge Burke will instruct the jury for an hour before they go out to deliberate and answer the question: Harvey Weinstein the victim? Or Harvey Weinstein the serial sexual predator?