Prosecutors had the final word during closing arguments in the rape trial of the Oscar-winning Harvey Weinstein. Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi told jurors he was a “predator” who used his powerful Hollywood position to attack women, who he viewed as ever-replaceable.
He “was a master of his universe and the witnesses were merely ants he could step on without consequence,” Illuzzi asserted.
The 67-year-old is on trial for raping would-be actress Jessica Mann in a hotel room in 2013 and performing non-consensual sex on Project Runway assistant Miriam “Mimi” Haley in 2006. He is facing five charges of rape and assault, and has pleaded not guilty.
If convicted, he faces life behind bars.
Illuzzi said that Weinstein had a “surefire insurance policy,” that guaranteed accusers would not come forward. She claims that their vulnerable professional positions and fear that he would destroy their careers silenced them.
She added that Weinstein tracked his victims by hiring private detectives “to make sure that one day they wouldn’t walk out of the shadows and call him exactly what he was, an abusive rapist.”
During Weinstein’s trial, other victims, who could not press charges due to statutue of limitations laws, took the stand, including Annabella Sciorra, who said he raped her in the 1990s. Three other women also testified about assaults.
On Thursday, Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno said that the accusers needed to take responsibility for their actions, and that they tried to start relationships with him to further their careers.
She said that, according to the prosecutors’ arguments, “the women are not responsible for the parties they attend, the men they flirt with, the hotel rooms they go to. The powerful Mr. Weinstein is the villain, and he’s so unattractive and large that no one would sleep with him.”
Jurors begin deliberations on Tuesday, February 18th.