New York prosecutor to make closing argument in Weinstein rape case

February 14, 2020

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York prosecutors on Friday will urge jurors to find former movie producer Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape and sexual assault, a day after Weinstein’s lawyers accused the prosecution of being “overzealous.”

Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi is expected to deliver the closing argument for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, setting the stage for the jury to begin deliberating next week.

Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013.

The trial is a milestone for the #MeToo movement in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, media, and politics of sexual misconduct.

Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

The former producer, who was behind films including “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” has denied any nonconsensual sex.

On Thursday, Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein’s lawyers, assailed Weinstein’s accusers as unreliable and said an “overzealous” prosecution was trying to portray consensual sex as assault.

“They are creating a universe in which they are stripping adult women of common sense, autonomy and responsibility,” she said during a nearly five-hour closing argument.

Haleyi testified during the trial that Weinstein forced oral sex on her in his home in 2006. Mann testified that Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room early in what she called an “extremely degrading” relationship with him.

Jurors heard from four other women, including actress Annabella Sciorra, who testified that Weinstein came into her apartment one winter night in 1993 or 1994 and raped her. The allegation is too old to be charged as a separate crime, but it could act as an aggravating factor to support the most serious charge in the case, predatory sexual assault, which carries a possible life sentence.

The prosecutors called the remaining three women to bolster their evidence of Weinstein’s intent, but did not charge him with any crimes related to them.

Justice James Burke is expected to give the jury legal instructions Tuesday morning, after which they will begin deliberating.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Rosalba O’Brien)

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