“In their universe, women are not responsible for the parties they attend, the men they flirt with, the choices they make to further their own careers,” Rotunno said in a packed courtroom of more than 100 spectators.
She said prosecutors are falsely pushing the theory that Weinstein “is so unattractive and large that no woman would want to sleep with him voluntarily.”
Rotunno focused on emails, testimony and exhibits that point to Weinstein, 67, carrying on affairs with Mann, 34, and Haleyi, 42.
Rotunno said the Manhattan district attorney’s version is that “women have no free will and no choice and no ability to engage in relationships that maybe they didn’t think were appropriate, or didn’t want to tell their friends [about] and they didn’t want to admit that they were for gain.”
Rotunno said the DA’s office overlooked issues with their case because the “pressure to win this case, in this climate, in this city at this time is immense.”
The Miramax founder and Academy Award-winning producer, who has been accused by dozens of women of sexual assault and misconduct, is charged in this case with raping Mann in 2013 at the DoubleTree Hotel on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan and with forcing oral sex on Haleyi at his Crosby Street apartment in 2006.
Weinstein’s team says he denies having sex with any of his accusers without consent. He is also facing separate charges in Los Angeles.
Rotunno likened the prosecution to “the producers” of the story that the jury heard over the month-long trial in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan. In their story, “regret doesn’t exist,” the lawyer argued.
Weinstein’s lawyers say evidence shows Mann kept up a five-year consensual relationship with him, while writing of him adoringly and pleading to set up meetings with him. Rotunno also said evidence pointed to a flirtatious relationship between Haleyi and Weinstein.
“For [Haleyi] to say that she never had any intention for Mr. Weinstein and she never knew of any intention of Mr. Weinstein involving her is clearly false,” Rotunno argued.
Rotunno pointed to two defense witnesses — Mann’s former friend Talita Maia and pal Tommy Richards — who gave testimony that disputed Mann’s story. Mann contends Weinstein forced oral sex on her in a Los Angeles hotel suite, but Maia testified that she noticed nothing out of the ordinary in Mann’s demeanor afterward. Richards said Mann was “normal” at breakfast with Weinstein at the DoubleTree Hotel, after she was allegedly raped on March 18, 2013.
Richards said that Mann then stayed an extra night on her trip to New York, to attend a movie premiere, on Weinstein’s invitation, and that she met Weinstein the next day, for his birthday.
Rotunno called out the district attorney for passing over this evidence. “If you want justice and if you want the full truth … call the witnesses that tell the full picture.”
If the jury finds Weinstein is guilty of the charges involving Mann or Haleyi, they can consider additional charges of predatory sexual assault, which would acknowledge a pattern that includes actress Annabella Sciorra’s allegation of rape from 1993 or 1994. (Sciorra’s story is not represented by an individual rape charge.) For a count of predatory sexual assault, he faces a minimum of a decade in prison, and up to life.
Rotunno suggested Sciorra rewrote history when testifying that Weinstein forced himself into her Gramercy Park apartment and physically overpowered her. The attorney said the actress “is not a shrinking violet.”
Rotunno contended Sciorra’s career was on life support when she got a call from journalist Ronan Farrow while he was reporting on allegations against Weinstein. “If she fits into his theory she suddenly becomes relevant. She’s now more relevant than she was ever before because she changes her memory and now she’s been raped,” Rotunno said. “Now she’s the darling of the movement.”
Sciorra testified that, at the time, she didn’t think she had been raped and didn’t tell anyone she had been. But her longtime friend, actress Rosie Perez, testified that Sciorra told her about the rape.
Rotunno pointed to testimony from Weinstein’s friend Paul Feldsher — a former friend of Sciorra — in which he said Sciorra once told him she did a “crazy” thing with Weinstein, implying the sex was consensual.
Rotunno acknowledged Weinstein’s moral failings. “You don’t have to like Mr. Weinstein. This is not a popularity contest. But you have to remember that we are not here to criminalize morality,” she said, asking the jury “to have the courage to tell them that by saying not guilty on all counts.”
“Tiger Woods was sex addict. You don’t see him in a criminal courtroom,” Rotunno added, referring to the professional golfer who was caught in a web of extramarital affairs. “Being a sex addict and being a rapist are two different things.”
Jurors heard from a total of six accusers, although only Mann, Haleyi and Sciorra are officially part of the case. The others were allowed to testify to support the main stories.
Two of the supporting witnesses testified that their alleged assaults occurred a full year after they originally thought, Rotunno argued Thursday, suggesting that the stories were either made up or “relabeled” from what were consensual encounters.
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon is scheduled to make her summation on Friday. Weinstein’s jury of seven men and five women is expected to start deliberating on Tuesday, after the Presidents’ Day weekend.
The prosecution’s theory relies on the power that Weinstein had in the industry and his physical size (roughly 300 pounds for most of his adult life), which make him capable of forcing sex acts on otherwise able women. Women who testified against him believed he had the ability to make or break their careers.
This story has been updated.