Content Warning: This article mentions sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape
On Friday, a prosecuter in Harvey Weinstein’s sex-crimes case called out Weinstein’s routine predatory behavior, labeling him as “Richy Rich” and “an abusive rapist” in her closing argument. Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi spoke directly and passionately to the jury, stressing how the movie producer preyed on the six women who’ve accused him of sexual assault.
“What is this case about? Power, manipulation and abuse? Or is it about the wanton lack of human empathy, which most of us possess but is absent in others?” Illuzzi asked.
She made sure that the jury was focused on her throughout her argument and was, “walking back and forth, at times speaking softly, leaning on the jury box and looking at them individually,” according to a report from CNN.
Weinstein, 67, has been accused of five counts—including rape, sexual criminal act, and predatory sexual assault— and has denied all charges, arguing that all of the encounters he had with the witnesses were consensual. If convicted, Weinstein could potentially be sentenced to life in prison.
The prosecution has faced a challenge with the witnesses because, despite six women coming forward against Weinstein, two of their cases are too old to prosecute. Instead, prosecutors are using the testimonies from all six witnesses to reiterate Weinstein’s serial predatory behavior—something that has spanned decades.
“I couldn’t even get away from him at all, let alone get out of the apartment.”
The testimonies used to charge Weinstein come from Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann. Haley, who accused him of forcing oral sex on her at his apartment in 2006, said in the courtroom,”I couldn’t even get away from him at all, let alone get out of the apartment.” Jessica Mann has accused Weinstein of raping her in 2013 during what she has called an abusive relationship. During her cross-examination, Mann was questioned about the nature of their relationship, pointing out that she has, according to the defense-attorneys, praised Weinstein in the past. To which, Mann responded, “I do want the jury to know he is my rapist,” continuing, “he raped me; it is irrelevant.”
Annabella Sciorra, one of the witnesses whose testimony is too old to prosecute, took to the stand to recount the time Weinstein allegedly raped her during the winter of 1993-1994, after he forced his way into her apartment. On a separate encounter at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, Sciorra says she opened the door to her hotel room to find Weinstein sitting on her bed with a bottle of baby oil and a video camera.
In her closing argument on Friday, Illuzzi made a point to discuss the notion of consent, emphasizing that no matter what positions these women may or may not have put themselves in, it does not mean they deserve to be sexually assaulted.
“We view the victims of sex crimes so differently than the crimes committed against people on a regular basis because they are charged with putting themselves in a situation,” she said, adding that none of the witnesses are gaining anything by coming forward. Haley has even changed her last name from Haley to Haleyi because of the harassment she has faced due to the trial.
The jury is expected to begin deliberating on Weinstein’s case on Tuesday.
What's Your Reaction?
Writer, journalist, and dog-enthusiast. Student in Pratt Institute’s BFA Writing Program.