Former movie mega-producer Harvey Weinstein’s trail of sex attacks on women was so simple, a child could follow his modus operandi, prosecutors alleged in their closing arguments at his trial for rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
As the Associated Press reports, the prosecution focused on Weinstein’s patterns in its closing as it worked to steer the jury to a guilty vote at the end of the five week trial, in which Weinstein stands accused of two counts of forcible rape and five counts of sexual assault involving four women. He was already sentenced to 23 years in New York for committing a first-degree criminal sex act against former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006 and for the third-degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann in an NYC hotel room in 2013.
Once Weinstein chose his target, prosecutors said, he would find a reason to meet the woman at a hotel, usually with an excuse involving her career.
Then, the Shakespeare in Love producer would spirit her up to his room, often through the help of a female assistant. He would answer the door in a robe, or possibly naked. The women would often find it was difficult to leave the room. Next for the victims, panic would set in. Behind closed doors of luxury hotel rooms, events would collapse into a kind of pre-organized chaos—with Weinstein either masturbating in front of the women, or groping them, or using force and the weight of his body to commit his crimes, including rape, prosecutors said.
“For this predator, hotels were his trap,” Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez said. “Confined within those walls victims were not able to run from his hulking mass. People were not able to hear their screams, they were not able to see them cower.”
In one example, when Natassia Malthe testified in November that she arrived at Weinstein’s hotel to discuss a movie, Weinstein and a hooker were already waiting. She alleged that this incident happened two months after Weinstein raped her when they met in another hotel room.
Kelly Sipherd said in her testimony that she met Weinstein twice in her life, seventeen years apart. The first time, he raped her in a hotel room. The second time, she said, he masturbated in front of her without her consent, also in a hotel room.
Jane Doe #1’s hotel sexual assault left her “[wanting] to die.” She said Weinstein treated her like “an object, like a box, like nothing.”
And Jennifer Siebel Newsom, aka Jane Doe #4, also the wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom, was a fledgling actress when Weinstein, she testified, requested a meet in a hotel “to discuss her career.” The meeting was rerouted from the hotel’s restaurant to Weinstein’s suite, where she claims he raped her.
“Who would suspect that such an entertainment industry titan would be a degenerate rapist?” Martinez asked the jury.
Weinstein, so methodical in his acquisition and assault of women, so comfortable wielding his Hollywood power to satisfy primal urges, was a “predator,” Martinez said. His team of female assistants were complicit and aided in pursuing his quarry.
“He used women to make these women feel comfortable,” Martinez explained, “to get their guard down.”
Although three of the women in these positions testified, they said they remembered little.
“Isn’t there a girl code?” Martinez said. “Apparently, if you know the defendant, there is no girl code.”
Weinstein’s attorneys have argued that all the encounters were consensual, if transactional, because the former Oscar machine and the women who testified that he assaulted them were all willingly taking part in the old Hollywood “casting couch” ritual of sex in exchange for career advancement.
In his closing argument Thursday, Weinstein attorney Alan Jackson told jurors that two of the accusers were merely “making it up,” Variety reports, and that the other two engaged in, yes, “transactional sex” because they wanted Weinstein to make them movie stars.
Jackson further argued that the women have recast themselves as victims because they want to be part of a “popular movement” like #MeToo, but he urged the jury to focus not on the women’s recent testimony, but on what they said and did—and what they did not say, and what they did not do—at the time of the alleged attacks.
“Regret is not the same as rape,” Jackson stated in his closing.
Jackson was particularly contemptuous of Siebel Newsom in his final address to the jury.
“What you saw was an act,” he told the court of her testimony. “It had no basis in truth.”
He argued the Siebel Newsom had “consensual, transactional sex” with Weinstein, and that the incident now works against her self-image as a “successful, educated, well-bred, refined woman.”
Jackson stated in closing: “She hates it. She is willing to lie in order to purge herself of her own choices.”
Jackson also showed off dozens of emails that Siebel Newsom sent to Weinstein after the alleged attack. Many of those emails included asking for campaign contributions for her husband.
Weinstein faces 60 years to life if convicted on all charges.
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