A prosecutor on Friday shut down Harvey Weinstein’s defense team’s suggestion that he’s a victim of the #MeToo movement – calling him an “abusive rapist.”
“To the lead defendant it has been said he was the master of the universe and the witnesses here were merely ants that he could step on without consequences,” Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, a lead prosecutor in the high-profile rape trial, told the Manhattan Supreme Court jury during a closing argument as she projected a photo of Weinstein on the red carpet.
“Moreover he felt like he had a surefire insurance policy that the witnesses were standing in line to get into his universe,” the prosecutor said, adding, “the universe is run by me and therefore they don’t get to complain when they’re stepped on, spit on, demoralized and raped and abused by the defendant.”
Illuzzi-Orbon’s summations in the case come a day after Weinstein’s attorney, Donna Rotunno, spent five hours trying to convince jurors that her once-powerful movie mogul client is innocent and that the prosecution had created an “alternative universe” for Weinstein’s accusers.
The prosecutor told the seven-man, five-woman jury that they will see that Weinstein “not only ran roughshod over the dignity and indeed the very life of these witnesses, but the fact that he also underestimated them.”
“He made sure he had contact with the people he was worried about…to make sure they wouldn’t walk out of the shadows and call him exactly what he was – and abusive rapist,” said Illuzzi-Orbon.
Weinstein, 67, faces two counts of predatory sexual assault, two counts of rape and one count of a criminal sex act stemming from the allegations of one-time aspiring actress Jessica Mann, former “Project Runway” production assistant Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi and “The Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra.
Mann, 34, has accused Weinstein of raping her twice, including once at the DoubleTree Hotel in Midtown in March 2013, and another time months later in Los Angeles, but he is only charged in the March incident.
Haleyi, 42, has claimed that Weinstein forced oral sex on her and yanked out her tampon in July 2006 after the Hollywood powerbroker invited her to his Soho apartment, while Sciorra, 59, has accused Weinstein of raping her at her Manhattan home in the winter of 1993-1994.
Sciorra’s allegation cannot be prosecuted as rape due to New York’s statute of limitations, but it is being used as part of the predatory sexual assault counts.
During Rotunno’s closing argument on Thursday, the attorney told jurors that Sciorra was only a part of the case to have one witness “with some star power,” and that if they “don’t believe” Haleyi or Mann they “don’t’ have to evaluate anyone else.”
Rotunno said that Sciorra is now “relevant” again and the “darling of the movement.”
But Illuzzi-Orbon said the events related to Sciorra “are very much part of the crimes charged here.”
“How marketable do you think that makes Annabella Sciorra to have to come here in this courtroom in public to tell you in front of all of them, then in front of the entire world that after this happened to her she was in such pain,” Illuzzi-Orbon said.
Sciorra “was cutting herself and then she was dabbing the blood with a tissue and putting it on a wall and putting gold leaf over it,” the prosecutor said, referring to Sciorra’s own testimony.
“Do you honestly think that moving on now people with projects and movies…are going to want that image connected to any film they put Annabella in?” Illuzzi-Orbon asked the jury. “This is a big career move for Annabella Sciorra? Really?”
Illuzzi-Orbon suggested that Sciorra was a “major concern” of Weinstein’s as she projected photos of Mann, Haleyi, Young, Dunning, and Wulff next to a photo of Sciorra.
“This is simple. It’s really quite simple,” Illuzzi-Orbon told the jurors, adding “You see these ladies are all the complete disposables,” referring to everyone but Sciorra.
“Annabella is in this industry. Annabella is having dinner and talking to Uma Thurman and she dated Gary Oldman,” Illuzzi-Orbon said, claiming that Weinstein is “worried she’s in his world.”
“These other women,” Illuzzi-Orbon said. “They were never in his world. They were never gonna’ be in his world. They’d never be strong enough, bold enough or brave enough to tell – but Annabella, someone might believe her.”
Deliberations in the landmark #MeToo-era trial are scheduled to start next week.
If convicted of the top charge, predatory sexual assault, the fallen film titan faces up to life in prison.