The prosecution in Harvey Weinstein’s Manhattan rape and sexual-assault trial described him as a longtime predator during closing remarks Friday morning, arguing that he treated his alleged victims as “ants he could step on without consequences” and that “maybe his kink is the fear in their eyes.”
Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi’s began her closing statement by saying, “It is about power, manipulation, and abuse.”
She asked jurors to consider whether Weinstein’s case was “merely about the abuse of power” or “about the wanton lack of human empathy that most of us possess.”
“To the defendant, it’s been said that he was the master of his universe, and the witnesses here were merely ants he could step on without consequences,” Illuzzi also said. “Moreover, he felt like he had a surefire insurance policy, that the witnesses were waiting to stand in line to get into his universe.”
Weinstein’s mentality, she said, was “the universe is run by me, and therefore, they don’t get to complain when they’re stepped on, spit on, demoralized, and raped, and abused …”
“Let’s face it, the defendant didn’t have to trick women into his lair,” Illuzzi said toward the end of her summation. “There are professional sex workers that you can get without tricking them into your lair — but maybe his kink is the fear in their eyes.”
Illuzzi’s closing statement was a rebuke to lead Weinstein attorney Donna Rotunno’s attempt to undermine his accusers in her closing remarks Thursday. Rotunno argued that the prosecutors’ case was “creating a universe in which they’re stripping adult women of common sense, autonomy, and responsibility.”
Weinstein faces five counts which involve two accusers, former Project Runway production assistant Mimi Haleyi and onetime actress Jessica Mann. The disgraced Shakespeare in Love producer is charged with one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree for Haleyi’s accusation that he forced oral sex on her in his Soho apartment in 2006. He is facing one count of rape in the first degree and one count of rape in the third degree for Mann’s claim that he raped her at a Midtown East hotel in 2013.
Weinstein also faces two counts of predatory sexual assault; one count is related to Haleyi’s accusation, and the other is related to Mann’s allegation. Annabella Sciorra’s allegation that Weinstein raped her around late 1993 is part of these counts, intended to establish that he has a proclivity toward sexual predation.
Three other women also took the stand to testify about alleged prior bad acts by Weinstein. He is not facing charges in New York for these alleged encounters. The jury can consider these allegations, however, in relation to intent and opportunity. Those accusers include Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff, and Lauren Young.
Illuzzi, in her closing, repeatedly took digs at Rotunno’s characterization of the women as craven, once willing to do anything to get ahead but now regretful of their past with a present-day pariah.
She addressed Rotunno’s statement that Sciorra is “now more relevant than she was before” coming forward.
“How Hollywood movie star is it for Annabella to have to tell you that she was cutting herself, and then she was dabbing her blood with a tissue, putting it on a wall, and putting gold leaf over [it]?” Illuzzi said. “This is a big career move for Annabella Sciorra? Really?”
Illuzzi also addressed accusers’ delays in coming forward. “Why not report?” Illuzzi asked. “Why, why, why, would they want to to do this? Why, why, why, if they didn’t feel compelled to do this?”
“Would they put themselves through the stress? Did it look like they were having fun up there? Did it look like that was a party? That that was a premiere?”
“Or, did it look like that was horrible and grueling?” Illuzzi said, pointing to the witness stand.
Judge James Burke, who presiding over the case, will give jurors instructions Tuesday morning, after which they will begin deliberations.
Update, February 24: Harvey Weinstein’s verdict has been announced.