NEW YORK — Harvey Weinstein believed he was so powerful he could get away with denigrating aspiring actresses drawn into a world where he considered them “complete disposables,” a prosecutor said on Friday in closing arguments at his New York City rape trial.
“The universe is run by me and they don’t get to complain when they get stepped on, spit on, demoralized and, yes, raped and abused by me — the king,” Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said, mimicking Weinstein.
Using a TV monitor next to the jury box, the prosecutors displayed photos of “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra and five other accusers who also testified. Illuzzi told jurors that aside from the more successful Sciorra, the others were “complete disposables. They were never going to be in his world.”
Illuzzi also showed a side-by-side comparison of Sciorra’s testimony about confronting Weinstein in the mid-1990s after he allegedly raped her and similar testimony by his rape accuser about how the mogul reacted when she told him she had a boyfriend in 2013.
“His eyes went black and I thought he was going to hit me right there,” Sciorra testified. With the click of a button, the rape accuser’s testimony popped up: “His eyes changed and he was not there. They were very black and he ripped me up.”
Sharp constrast to defense close
Illuzzi’s closing comes a day after the defense offered an epic, hourslong closing argument painting the prosecution’s case as a “sinister tale” and the allegations as “regret renamed as rape.”
Weinstein, 67, is charged with raping a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on a different woman, Mimi Haleyi, in 2006. Other accusers including Sciorra testified as part of a prosecution effort to show he used the same tactics to victimize many women over the years.
In response to defense claims that Haleyi and the alleged rape victim were opportunists who had consensual sex with Weinstein because they thought it would help their careers, prosecutors are seeking to focus the jury’s attention on accusers’ harrowing accounts alleging rapes, forced oral sex, groping, masturbation, lewd propositions and casting couch experiences.
Some women testified that Weinstein ignored pleas of “no, no, no” as he assaulted them. The woman Weinstein is charged with raping said he would turn violent when he couldn’t get his way and that, “If he heard the word ‘no,’ it was like a trigger for him.”
Another woman recalled Weinstein sneering, “You’ll never make it in this business, this is how this industry works,” when she laughed off his advances.
The Associated Press has a policy of not publishing the names of people who allege sexual assault without their consent. It is withholding the name of the rape accuser because it isn’t clear if she wishes to be identified publicly.
The prosecution’s task has been complicated because the women he’s charged with assaulting didn’t abandon Weinstein after the alleged encounters.
In her closing argument Thursday, Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno accused prosecutors of creating an alternate universe that “strips adult women of common sense, autonomy, and responsibility.”
“In this script the powerful man is the villain and he’s so unattractive and large, that no woman would ever want to sleep with him voluntarily. Regret does not exist in this world, only regret renamed as rape.” Rotunno said in remarks that went on for more than 4½ hours.