LOS ANGELES (CN) — The women who accused disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of rape and sexual assault "played the game" that they now have come to hate, Weinstein's lawyer told jurors in his closing argument Thursday.
Weinstein had pleasant, friendly and 100% consensual relationships with two of the women he's charged with either assaulting or raping, attorney Alan Jackson told jurors. The two other women he's on trial for accusations of assault or rape fabricated their stories, he said.
Weinstein, 70, faces seven counts of sexual battery, forcible oral copulation and rape. This is the second trial over accusations of sexual assault against the fallen industry titan — a New York jury previously convicted him and he was 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.
His lawyers have argued that the women who have come forward and accused Weinstein since the start of the #MeToo movement in 2017 are trying to rewrite history and that they engaged in consensual, transactional sex with him as part of the Hollywood "casting couch" culture. They were "fame and fortune seekers," according to Jackson, who were hoping to get Weinstein's support for their careers in exchange for sex.
“He benefitted, and she benefitted," Jackson told the jury. ""They played the game. They hate it now, unequivocally … and that hate translated into their testimony.”
One of the women Weinstein is charged with raping when she was aspiring actress in 2005 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 Siebel Newsom.
Weinstein's lawyers have attacked the credibility of the women who, like Siebel Newsom, stayed in touch with the former Miramax Films boss after the alleged assaults and sought out his help.
“Their own statements. Their own words," Jackson said referring to the trial testimony of the women about their interactions with Weinstein after they said he assaulted them. "After they say they were assaulted, after they say in some cases, they were raped. If that made you scratch your heads … you’re not alone.”
Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez told the jurors Wednesday in her closing argument 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.”
The prosecution portrayed Weinstein as a predator who singled out attractive, young women and charmed them by showing interest in their work and offered to help them get their careers off the ground in Hollywood. They were then lured to a purported business meeting, typically at a hotel, where once they were alone with Weinstein, he would become aggressive and demanding, masturbating while groping them or in some cases raping them.
The 2017 exposure of the years of sexual exploitation of women by Weinstein spawned the #MeToo movement that prompted many victims to come forward and tell their stories. The victims in the LA trial also didn't contact police until after the movement made it easier to share their experiences.
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