Weinstein's lawyer urges jurors to acquit him

Lead lawyer Donna Rotunno.
Lead lawyer Donna Rotunno.

NEW YORK • Harvey Weinstein's defence team urged jurors to acquit the ex-Hollywood titan of rape and predatory sexual assault charges in closing arguments on Thursday - even though a not-guilty verdict would prove unpopular.

Lead lawyer Donna Rotunno said prosecutors had created "an alternative universe" in which the Pulp Fiction producer was a "monster" who preyed on aspiring actresses, but had not provided any evidence.

Weinstein, 67, faces life imprisonment if convicted.

Since testimony began on Jan 22, six women have taken the stand to say they were sexually assaulted.

Ms Rotunno reminded the 12 jurors that they are considering charges related to just two women: ex-actress Jessica Mann and former production assistant Miriam "Mimi" Haleyi.

"Never let your emotion cloud your intellect. Use your New York City common sense. It will guide you to the right answer," she added.

Under cross-examination, Mann and Haleyi acknowledged at least one consensual sexual encounter with Weinstein after the alleged assaults.

Ms Rotunno repeatedly referred to dozens of e-mails and texts the defence presented during the trial that show the accusers on friendly terms with Weinstein years after the alleged incidents.

"The truth leaves a paper trail," she said, asking the jurors to study the "real-time evidence", not a world created by the prosecution "where women don't have choices".

Ms Rotunno reminded jurors that to convict the defendant, they must be sure of his guilt beyond all reasonable doubt.

The prosecution was set to present closing arguments yesterday before jurors begin considering Weinstein's fate on Tuesday. They must reach unanimous verdicts on each count. If they are unable to, the judge may be forced to declare a mistrial.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2020, with the headline 'Weinstein's lawyer urges jurors to acquit him'. Print Edition | Subscribe