Donna Rotunno cross examines the victim and says ‘you could have just walked away’ on Monday, driving her to tears on week five of Harvey Weinstein’s trial.
The victim broke down in tears throughout Rotunno’s exhaustive and accusatory cross examination.
That didn’t stop Rotunno from attempting to paint the victim as a manipulative opportunist, repeatedly asking her why she continued to send friendly emails to the disgraced producer, Harvey Weinstein, even after he allegedly raped her in a New York City hotel room in March 2013.
The woman said she tried to make Harvey Weinstein “my pseudo father” after a rough childhood. She said she sent him flattering emails and kept seeing him because “I wanted him to believe I wasn’t a threat.”
The woman testified that she was afraid of his ‘unpredictable anger.’
She became emotional reading an email to her boyfriend at the time saying that she was also involved with Weinstein. She described seeing Weinstein naked, just as she described in her testimony and said that she tried to tell herself that it was a consensual relationship, so that she wouldn’t see herself as a rape victim.
The victim broke down and was crying so uncontrollably, after a comfort break, that the Judge decided to cut the day short.
On Friday, the victim gave evidence all day to many noisey objections from the defence. In fact, Rotunno objected five times when the victim described Weinstein’s deformed genitals in three sentences.
Harvey Weinstein, many can attest, does not take no for an answer. It is what has made him so successful and it’s a characteristic that runs through many, if not all, of his relationships.
The victim will continue to be cross examined on Tuesday, a third day, longer than any other victim or witness.
My Two Cents: Relationships are complicated and when you add in previous abuse and power and control dynamics – a victim cannot ‘just walk away.’
How many more times are the myths about abuse and rape going to be trotted out and honed in on by Rotunno?
“Why did she maintain a relationship? Why did she meet him? Why did she e-mail him? Why did she talk about introducing him to her mother?”
It’s staggering just how many questions are asked about what a victim did or didn’t do, as if these questions shed light on whether the abuse, sexual assault and/or rape happened.
In my experience it’s normal when there is a power imbalance and a relationship for the victim to maintain some form of contact, particularly if there are coercive control dynamics, grooming, a significant age difference, a power imbalance, and the victim is fearful that person will escalate their behaviour and/or harm their career or others the victim cares about.
But on and on Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer questioned the victim, trying to undermine and discredit her, as if everything she did was unusual and an anomaly.
If you take any relationship and analyse the goings on, there will be many things that people would not understand in the cold light of day. Emotions play a part and blurs logic. However, when there is abuse, a significant age difference and a power imbalance, the dynamics are even more challenging – but not impossible – to understand. This is why experts are so important, to help the court and jury understand.
For example, trauma bonding may occur – where the victim can be pushed even closer to the abuser – the only person who truly understands and “gets it’, and when careers hang in the balance, even more so.
So no, Donna Rotunno, when abuse is present, consent is not. Victims cannot ‘just walk away.’
The case continues.
Please note that I am withholding the name of the woman because it isn’t clear if she wishes to be identified publicly.