The future of Harvey Weinstein, the producer with the worst reputation in Hollywood, depends on a dozen anonymous characters almost ready to decide. After three weeks of raw and detailed testimony in the first and only criminal process of the Me Too movement, Weinstein’s defense has been addressed last Thursday to the twelve jurors – seven men and five women. The final arguments of Donna Rotunno, the defendant’s lawyer, have been a compendium of the weapons used so far in the State Criminal Court of New York: to maintain that all sexual relations were agreed upon and bring out emails and text messages in a friendly tone between the alleged victims and Weinstein after the events reported.
“The irony of this trial is that actresses have written a script. In their parallel universe, women are not responsible for the parties they attend, for the men they flirt with, or for the hotel rooms they enter. “Rotunno said, before the attentive gaze of the jurors, who took notes while listening to her. The lawyer reminded them with an almost threatening tone that when they accepted to be sworn they promised to have “the courage” to “make the right decision.” He immediately gave them an express course of what the presumption of innocence means. “If they believe that maybe they are guilty or that it probably is, it is not enough,” he said.
The session started late due to defense claims. The tension between lawyers became latent in the countdown to deliberation. Dozens of journalists and a small handful of curious people lined up from six in the morning to access the room where Weinstein dragged himself by pushing a walker. The first question was for him. Days ago, the film producer confessed to journalists that he wanted to give his testimony, but his lawyers convinced him not to. Judge James Burke told him that he had many days to think about whether to speak or not, and asked him if it had been his own decision not to testify and if he didn’t want to do it inside: the answer to both “yes” questions.
The former film industry foreman is accused of raping actress Jessica Mann in 2014 and forcing production assistant Mimi Haleyi to practice oral sex in 2006. For these facts she faces five charges: one for first-degree sexual offense; two of violation, in first and third grade; and two of “predatory” sexual assault, a legal term that implies that the crime is part of the defendant’s natural behavior. Four other women declared at the trial to have been victims of that behavior and about twenty witnesses supported them.
Rotunno, who has successfully represented about 40 men accused of sexual crimes, projected the chronology of the meetings between Weinstein and Haleyi to argue, with irony, that the alleged victim was “so offended” by the assault he accepted a I work at Project Runwey and traveled to Los Angeles with a ticket purchased by the producer. The lawyer referred to the “mental state” of the production assistant based on her testimony at the trial: she cited a meeting at a hotel bar between Haleyi and the defendant, weeks after the alleged aggression, where “she made jokes, It was lovely and wonderful, “but she said” I wasn’t flirting, “the lawyer said with a slight smile.
The final arguments of the Prosecutor’s Office will be heard this Friday. The jury, which will begin deliberating next Tuesday, will be the one with the last word on whether Weinstein, 67, must spend the rest of his life behind bars. What they decide transcends the producer, become a symbol of abuse of power in exchange for sex. The sentence granted will mark the precedent for future criminal proceedings related to sexual harassment.
If they had approached the 15th floor of the court located at 100 Center Street, Manhattan, all the women who had publicly claimed to have been abused to some degree by Harvey Weinstein, 90 alleged victims would have appeared. Those who took the stand during the trial narrated the maneuvers of the former Hollywood owner to get sex with them. The pattern of behavior was to invite them to their hotel room – or visit them – with the excuse of having a possible job. For them, it was the man of the thousand Oscar awards who was considering them for a role. Being alone, by force, he raped them, groped or practiced oral sex.
In the event that Weinstein is acquitted, he must appear before the California courts to be prosecuted again. The Los Angeles District Prosecutor’s Office filed four formal charges against the film producer in early January for two sexual assaults allegedly committed in 2013. The two attacks occurred on consecutive days in hotels in the city of the stars, which one day was Weinstein’s fief. The investigations of The New York Times Y The New Yorker in 2017 they triggered a cascade of complaints of abused women and changed society in an indelible way. Now is the time for justice to pronounce itself …