Prosecutors in Harvey Weinstein’s Manhattan rape and sexual-assault trial complained to the judge Friday about lead defense attorney Donna Rotunno’s comments in a new episode of the New York Times’ The Daily podcast, where she said, “We have created a society of celebrity victimhood status.”
While Rotunno claimed to Justice James Burke “that was taped a long time ago” and she had “no idea” it was airing this morning, a Times spokesperson said in an email this afternoon: “The interview was taped on January 28 and aired on Feb. 7. Donna Rotunno was made aware of the air date.”
BuzzFeed News first confirmed the episode’s recording date and that Rotunno knew about the air date.
In the episode, Rotunno said she had never been sexually assaulted “because I would never put myself in that position.” In addition to the “celebrity victimhood status” remark, Rotunno also said, “The actions of women after-the-fact prove they were consensual.”
She also cited “things like reaching out to Mr. Weinstein after you change your phone number, saying I wanted to make sure you have my new phone number” — an apparent reference to accuser Jessica Mann. The former actress, who accused Weinstein of raping her in 2013, remained in contact with him after the alleged assault.
Prosecutors complained about the interview, citing Burke’s instruction to Rotunno several weeks ago to “leave the witnesses alone, don’t talk about them in any capacity.”
“She’s calling our witnesses liars and celebrity victimhood status, and it is completely in contradiction to your order,” lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said today. “So Judge, we are asking for you to order the defense to cease and desist any discussion about this case in public.”
“That was taped a while ago, and I did not speak about any witness individually. I talked about a multitude of issues with regard to questions that were asked of me,” Rotunno said. “It was done, it was really me going into the lion’s den, not the other way around.”
“She knew it was going to be broadcast today,” Illuzzi said.
“I had no idea,” Rotunno replied. “I got a call this morning from a friend who heard it, I was not told by them, I have no idea.”
Asked for comment about this apparent inconsistency, a representative for Rotunno said, “Ms. Rotunno had no intention to misrepresent the date, as lately the days bleed together. It happened on a day when the judge ended very early.”
The rep also said that Rotunno has already notified the court about the date mix-up.
In addition to the charges brought by Mann, Weinstein is also accused of forcing oral sex on former Project Runway production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006.
Update, February 24: Harvey Weinstein’s verdict has been announced.