On Friday, February 14, prosecutors in disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial delivered their closing arguments. In the interim period, the defense has called several witnesses to raise doubts about the credibility of the accuser’s testimony, even going so far as to bring in an expert who spoke about memories becoming increasingly difficult to remember with the passage of time. In its hours-long closing argument, the defense sought to portray the prosecution’s case as a “sinister tale…[of] regret renamed as rape.” Weinstein’s defense attorney, Donna Rotunno, sought to systematically refute the claims made by all six women in the case, and at times read aloud emails that were entered into evidence earlier in the trial.
Harvey Weinstein, 67, has been charged with raping a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman, Mimi Haleyi in 2006. Many other accusers have testified for the prosecution that he used nearly identical tactics over the years. The prosecution will seek to refocus the jury’s mind back to the accusers who provided detailed testimonies alleging rapes, forced oral sex, groping, masturbation, lewd propositions and casting couch experiences. The accusers spoke about how Weinstein would ignore repeated pleas of “no, no, no” as he assaulted them. The woman who Weinstein is charged with raping testified that he would often turn violent when he could not get his way, and that the “word ‘no’…was like a trigger for him.” Other women have testified about Weinstein’s threats of retaliation, where he would often sneer about the adverse career impacts that rejecting his advances would have.
The prosecution will have the last word before the jury receives instructions and begins deliberating next week, which means that they must rebut some of the defense’s most damaging arguments against the prosecution’s case. Among them, is the defense’s arguments that the two women Weinstein is charged with attacking are cynical opportunists who willingly sought out a powerful man and consented to sexual activity with him in order to advance their own career prospects in the industry.