LOS ANGELES (CN) — Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was called a predator who preyed on young women pursuing their dreams in the entertainment industry as the prosecution summarized more than a month of testimony in their closing argument on Wednesday afternoon.
“For this predator, hotels were his trap," Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez told jurors in a downtown LA courtroom. "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.”
The jury will have to decide whether Weinstein, 70, is guilty of seven counts of sexual battery, forcible oral copulation and rape. This is the second trial over allegations of sexual assault against the fallen industry titan who has already been convicted by a New York jury and sentenced to 23 years in prison. That verdict was upheld on appeal this year, but New York's top court has agreed to review it as well.
Four women testified at the LA trial about how they were assaulted by Weinstein after he had won their trust by showing interest in their careers and offering to help him. The assaults all took place in hotel rooms, either Weinstein's own where the women were lured under the pretense of a business meeting, and in the case of one victim to provide him a professional massage service, or at their own hotel after Weinstein had managed to let them in.
Four additional women testified about assaults that occurred outside LA County and that Weinstein hasn't been charged with, but that supported the prosecution's theory about how he used his power in the entertainment industry to force them into sex against their will.
“These are eight women who do not know each other," Martinez said. "They’ve never even met. Yet they all describe the same conduct by the same man.”
The prosecutor went through the very similar experiences of each of the women with Weinstein, saying he singled them out, complimented them, offered his help mentoring them in their careers, and often through a female employee arranged to meet them to discuss their work. But once they met with him, Weinstein female employees would quickly disappear and the meeting at a hotel bar or restaurant would be moved to his room, sometimes under the pretext that he had to get ready for an event.
Once the women were alone with him in a hotel room, Weinstein stopped being charming and complimentary but turned aggressive and demanding, Martinez said. He would trap his victims in the bathroom with him where he would strip naked and masturbate while groping them. In other cases, he would rape them.
The jury were again played parts of the 2015 audio recording made by an Italian model who was cooperating with a NY police investigation, in which Weinstein is heard badgering her incessantly to come into his hotel room, which she refuses, to relax while he gets ready for an event. The model, only identified as Ambra B., had gone to police after he had grabbed her breast at a meeting at his office. On the recording made afterward, Weinstein says "I'm used to that" when she asked him why he grabbed her at that previous meeting.
The audio recording demonstrates, according to Martinez, what happened with the other victims where Weinstein refuses to take no for an answer.
One of the women Weinstein is charged with raping is Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom. Although all the four women Weinstein is charged with assaulting are only referred as Jane Doe 1 through 4 in court, the prosecution identified Jane Doe 4 as the Siebel Newsom.
Like some of the other women, she had stayed in touch with Weinstein after her ordeal, which Weinstein's defense has interpreted to mean that the alleged assaults were in fact transactional sexual encounters that the women engaged in exchange for Weinstein's help with their careers.
Martinez told the jurors that they shouldn't judge the women on what they did after they were assaulted, reminding them that Weinstein was the most powerful man in Hollywood and that his victims had to remain on his good side if they wanted to get anywhere in the entertainment industry.
“Getting on the defendant’s bad side?" Martinez said. "That would guarantee your career is over. These women had so many dreams that they were not going to let this monster destroy them.”
Weinstein lawyers will give their closing argument Thursday.
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