Before the jury got the case, Judge James Burke admonished Weinstein defense lawyer Donna Rotunno for publishing an opinion piece in Newsweek Sunday asking the jury to be fair.
“I implore the members of this jury,” Rotunno wrote, “to do what they know is right and was expected of them from the moment they were called upon to serve their civic duty in a court of law.” In court Tuesday, she defended the piece as necessary in the wake of “a large media attack on Mr. Weinstein every single day.”
Burke, who had previously ordered attorneys not to speak to the press, was stern as he imposed a gag order. “You are ordered to refrain from communicating with the public and press until there’s a verdict in this case,” he said.
In closing arguments last week, Rotunno argued Weinstein’s main accusers met willingly with the producer in hopes of advancing their careers and admitted having consensual sex with him on other occasions. To charge him with sexual assault “strips adult women of common sense, autonomy and responsibility.”
But prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon argued that Weinstein used his power and influence to manipulate women and then silence them after he took advantage of them.
“He made sure he had contact with the people he was worried about, as a little check to make sure that one day they wouldn’t walk out of the shadows and call him exactly what he was: an abusive rapist,” Illuzzi-Orbon argued. “Well, he was wrong.”
The jury sat through nearly three weeks of testimony from 28 prosecution witnesses and seven called by Weinstein’s legal team. Weinstein was not one of them. Lawyers typically consider it a risky prospect for a defendant to testify in any case.
“He was ready, able and anxious to testify to clear his name, to clear the facts of this case,” Weinstein lawyer Arthur Aidala told reporters last week, but he was advised by counsel that “he did not need to [testify] because the evidence presented in this case was anemic at best.”
“If his name was not Harvey Weinstein and was John Doe, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office would have never brought these charges,” Aidala said.
With jury deliberations underway, here’s how the trial has played out so far.
The jury hears from three alleged victims
Actress Annabella Sciorra was the first to take the witness stand. In a break with custom at the New York Supreme Court building in Manhattan, the 59-year-old alleged victim was not shielded from news cameras that lined the hallway outside the courtroom.
In her testimony, the Brooklyn-born actress’s story was rehashed in meticulous detail.
Sciorra said she met Weinstein early in her career at a party in Los Angeles. Their professional lives intertwined when she starred in “The Night We Never Met” alongside Matthew Broderick.
Weinstein told Sciorra he would produce the film only if he could cast her as the female lead, a role slated for Sarah Jessica Parker, according to the accuser’s testimony. Sciorra found herself at dinners and events with Weinstein around that time.
Sciorra does not recall the date of her alleged rape but testified that it was late 1993 or early 1994. She said she went upstairs to the 17th-story unit she was subleasing but was met with an interruption as she got ready for bed.
“There was a knock on the door,” she testified, telling jurors she had already changed into a white nightgown, a family heirloom from Italy she had cherished. “I opened the door to see who it was thinking it was a neighbor or the doorman.”
Weinstein “was there and he pushed the door open. I didn’t have an opportunity to understand why he was there and he started to walk in. . . . In hindsight I think he was looking to see if there was somebody else there, and he started to unbutton his shirt and I then realized that he thought we were going to be having sex,” Sciorra said.
Sciorra described being physically overpowered by Weinstein after telling him to leave.
“What were you trying to do to get him off?” Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon asked her.
“Punching him, kicking him, just trying to get him away from me,” Sciorra said in emotional testimony on Jan. 23. He pinned her hands above her head and forced penetration, said the witness said, who appeared to be trying to hold back emotion.
In response to her testimony, lawyers for Weinstein called two witnesses they hoped would dilute her credibility.
One was Paul Feldsher, a former close friend of Sciorra’s who said she told him around that time that she did something “crazy” with Weinstein. He said he understood it to mean some kind of consensual “hookup.”
But Feldsher also proved to be a loyal friend to Weinstein, admitting that he’s been a recent source of support to the defendant at a time when he has few confidants and that he hasn’t talked to Sciorra in years.
Another defense witness, Nelson Lopez, is a manager at Sciorra’s old building. He said a doorman is on duty 24 hours a day. Prosecutors have suggested Weinstein paid one off to get upstairs unannounced, or went upstairs unnoticed. “I don’t think they could be bribed,” Lopez said of his staff.
Mimi Haleyi, 42, is a London-based freelancer. In 2006, she said, she was invited to Weinstein’s hotel room at the Cannes Film Festival to discuss possible jobs. When she got there, he requested a massage.
“I was extremely humiliated and just felt very stupid that I had been so excited to go and see him and that he treated me that way,” a tearful Haleyi said.
A Weinstein deputy offered her a $125-per-day temp job working on the TV show “Project Runway” in New York. Around this time he invited her for drinks and tried to talk her into a trip to Paris with him on a private jet, which she declined. She accepted an offer to go to Los Angeles, but on a commercial flight. On the eve of that trip, Haleyi testified, she was assaulted. She went to his SoHo apartment “to stop by and say hi. I had no reason not to,” she testified. “It would have been odd to decline when I had accepted to go to L.A.”
Haylei described him turning what was “normal conversation” into an unwanted advance.
“I just kind of tried to reject him and push him away; and he would just pull me back and keep kissing and fondling me . . . I was walking backward trying to get away, but he would just come at me,” the witness said.
“I don’t want this to happen,” she said, according to the testimony. “I’m on my period.”
“He held me down on the bed and he forced himself on me orally,” the witness said, blotting tears from her reddening face during her testimony. “I was on my period, I had a tampon in there. . . . I was mortified.”
Haleyi admitted to having a sexual encounter with Weinstein a short time after.
“I didn’t resist physically,” she said of the encounter. “I just laid there.”
The trial’s most dramatic moments were during questioning of Jessica Mann, 34, a woman who carried on a five-year consensual relationship with him. Prosecutors tried to build an image of Mann as a “naive” girl from rural Washington state.
She testified that Weinstein raped her twice — although Weinstein has only been charged in the March 18, 2013, alleged incident at the DoubleTree hotel on Lexington Avenue in New York.
Her testimony, spanning three days with about 10 hours of brutal cross-examination, was at times baffling. She insisted she was repulsed by Weinstein but had “compassion” for him after seeing what she described as a deformed body and genitals.
Mann’s story is the most complicated. Years of email records show an ongoing flirtation and an affectionate vibe with Weinstein. She testified that she also thought of him as a father figure.
Mann admitted she couldn’t pin down when a second alleged rape at the Peninsula hotel in Los Angeles would have happened.
For jurors to convict Weinstein on predatory sexual assault, he needs to be found guilty of attacking Sciorra and Mann and/or Sciorra and Haleyi.
Three additional accusers and their impact on the trial
Weinstein faces individual counts of rape and criminal sex act. He’s charged with raping Mann in 2013 and with forcing a sex act on Haleyi in 2006. Sciorra, whose allegations were considered by prosecutors to be time-barred from being charged as their own criminal act, is represented by a pair of predatory sexual assault counts.
Weinstein faces the most time in prison — a minimum of a decade and up to life — on those charges.
The three main accusers were supported by three more alleged victims, allowed by the judge to help prosecutors show what they say is a history of bad conduct. Jurors have been told that testimony from Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff and Lauren Young has limited value. Weinstein’s legal team has argued from the start that their testimony is prejudicial.
Dunning, 40, was an aspiring actress who met Weinstein while waiting tables at a trendy lounge. She said she grew to trust Weinstein, who invited her to industry events. She was glad to have a powerful connection in the business. Dunning said she was in a Weinstein business suite at a New York hotel in 2004 when she was summoned alone to his bedroom where she alleges that he reached up her skirt.
Wulff, a model and former cocktail waitress at Cipriani Downtown, said Weinstein masturbated in front of her after taking her to a secluded landing during one of her shifts. She testified that she stepped out of the venue with him because he said she had a “great look” and suggested he could help her get acting gigs.
The witness, now 43, also testified that she was sent in 2005 from his office (where she thought she was reading a script) to Weinstein’s Crosby Street apartment. There, she said, he raped her after telling her not to worry because he’s “had a vasectomy.”
Lauren Marie Young, 30, said the Miramax founder and an accomplice “trapped” her in a Montage hotel suite in Los Angeles in 2013. Weinstein groped her and pleasured himself, she said. Young is one of the two victims who are part of a case against Weinstein in Los Angeles for rape and sexual assault; those charges against him were announced on Jan. 6, the day his New York trial officially started.
His lawyers argued it was a “coordinated” effort to smear him before jury selection.
What's on the line for the Manhattan district attorney?
The case is high-stakes for the Manhattan district attorney, who has taken heat over his office’s handling of sex crimes. Cyrus Vance Jr. has personally been in the courtroom for almost the entirety of the trial, intently watching his prosecutors in action.
Vance’s office was widely criticized for declining to charge Weinstein in 2015 after Italian Filipina model Ambra Battilana said the producer groped her at his Tribeca office. She confronted Weinstein and recorded their interaction, where he can be heard apologizing on the tape.
Vance has also been under scrutiny recently for his handling of a sex abuser gynecologist, Columbia University doctor Robert Hadden. Hadden was allowed to take a jail-free plea deal in 2016 even though at least 20 women, many of whom were pregnant, have stories of being sexually abused in the exam room by him. One is Evelyn Yang, the wife of Andrew Yang.
Vance is up for reelection next year. Several challengers are already campaigning. Many in the city’s legal community speculate that his decision to seek or decline to seek reelection will be based on the outcome of the case. A Vance spokesperson declined to comment on whether his decision will be tied to the Weinstein outcome.