Harvey Weinstein was ‘master of the universe’ who preyed on the powerless, say prosecutors as they close their case

Harvey Weinstein is “an abusive rapist” who saw himself as “master of the universe,” a jury has been told, as the prosecution made their final push to convict him at the end of his closely-watched trial.

Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, prosecuting, said that the Hollywood mogul showed “a wanton lack of human empathy” over decades, abusing a series of aspiring actresses and producers.

“He had a sure-fire insurance policy,” she said, explaining how his behaviour went unpunished for years. “The victims were standing in line to get into his universe.”

Weinstein, 67, stared straight ahead in court as the Staten Island-born prosecutor urged the 12-person jury to convict him. He is charged on five counts, and faces life in prison if the jury find him guilty.

However, their decision must be unanimous, or else a mistrial is declared.

Mrs Illuzzi-Orbon, known as one of New York’s toughest prosecutors, spoke directly to the jury to argue that the women had no motive in inventing the accusations against him, and every reason not to go to the police.

The case, she said, was all about “power, manipulation and abuse.”

“It’s an extraordinarily competitive industry. You have to look a certain way, hang out with certain people, do all these things,” she said.

“Every time you are analysing this case, it’s Harvey Weinstein everything: victims, nothing.”

Weinstein’s high-powered legal team, led by Chicago-based Donna Rotunno, have argued that the six women who testified of rape and assault by Weinstein all consented to sex with him.

But Mrs Illuzzi-Orbon recapped their stories, emphasising the horror of their experiences.

Two women are pressing charges – British-based former production assistant Miriam Haley, and Hollywood hopeful Jessica Mann.

Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra was allowed to testify to bolster the two womens’ cases, and three other women testified in support of the prosecution.

Mrs Illuzzi-Orbon reminded the jury, who have listened to four weeks of evidence, about the role of Black Cube. The investigations company, founded by veterans of Israel’s intelligence services, was hired by Weinstein as reporters were digging into his story, in 2017, to look into the backgrounds of the women likely to accuse him.

She showed them a series of emails from earlier in the trial, in which Weinstein emphasised that he was worried in particular about Sciorra speaking out.

“I submit to you; that’s a confession,” she said.

“Why is Annabella Sciorra a major concern for Harvey Weinstein? You know who you don’t see on the blacklist? Dawn or Lauren or Jess or Mimi. It’s simple. These ladies are all disposables. Annabella is in the industry. Annabella is having dinner and talking to Uma Thurman, she dated Gary Oldman. She is in his world.

“These other women? They were never in his world, never going to be. Never strong enough, bold enough, brave enough to tell. But Annabella? Someone might believe her.”

She added: “Remember that none of these women, when what was happening to them was happening, knew about the others. That’s the hallmark of a predator. Isolate them, and they can feel like they’re the only one.

“And he’s a giant – not only in the film industry, but he gets presidents on the phone, people you’ll never meet in your life.”

Frequently referring back to the testimony of forensic psychiatrist Barbara Ziv, she set out why the women would keep in touch with Weinstein after the alleged attacks, and why they would be reluctant to tell anyone.

She also stressed to the jurors the immense personal toll of speaking out.

“How marketable do you think it makes Annabella Sciorra to come here, before you and the entire world, to tell how, after this happened to her, she was in such pain?

“How Hollywood movie star is it for Annabella to have to tell you she was cutting herself, then dabbing the blood with a tissue and putting it on the wall.

“Do you think that’s a career booster? Do you think people will want that connected to whatever project? This is a big career move for Annabella – really?”

The previous day Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, did her best to sow doubt into the minds of the jurors, hoping that just one would harbour enough doubt to result in a mistrial.

“Use your New York City common sense,” she urged them. “You don’t have to like Mr Weinstein – this is not a popularity contest.”

Ms Rotunno told them: “Every single one of these women reaches out, asks for things, and he does everything he can do to make it happen. This is not a monster.”

Weinstein was impressed by her performance.

“I made The King’s Speech,” he said, as he shuffled out of court on Thursday with his zimmer frame. “It was a queen’s speech.”

Yesterday, as the prosecution ended their case, he had no comment.

On Tuesday the jury will begin their deliberations.

The post Harvey Weinstein was ‘master of the universe’ who preyed on the powerless, say prosecutors as they close their case appeared first on The Telegraph.

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Author: The Telegraph