MANHATTAN (CN) — Detailing evidence that the movie producer “tricked and deprived” young women in his orbit to sustain his control over them, a New York prosecutor urged jurors Friday to convict Harvey Weinstein as “an abusive rapist.”
“This is about power, manipulation, and abuse,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Osborn said during her three-hour summation this morning, growing animated as she described Weinstein’s “wanton lack of human empathy that most of us possess.”
“To the defendant, it’s been said that he was a master of his universe and the witnesses here were merely ants that he could step on without consequences,” Illuzzi added.
“The fact that they wanted to get into his universe was his surefire insurance policy.”
With an escalating crescendo, Illuzzi said that meant one thing for the ants: “They don’t get to complain when they’re stepped on, spit on and demoralized by the defendant and then, yes, raped by the king.”
Weinstein, who turns 68 in March, faces a possible life sentence if convicted in Manhattan Supreme Court of felony counts first brought in March 2018, including counts of rape, predatory sexual acts and criminal sexual act in the first degree.
Wrapping up the sixth week of the trial, Illuzzi began her closing arguments Friday focused on witness testimony by actress Annabella Sciorra, who had described being violently raped by Weinstein in her Gramercy Park apartment one evening during the winter of 1993-94.
Addressing the jury of seven men and five women, Illuzzi posited that Weinstein had dropped Sciorra off at her apartment that night and then laid in wait for half an hour, expecting the actress to pop a valium, before he circled back to her building and barged into her 17th-floor apartment.
“Instead of finding a groggy Annabella, he found a quite sober Annabella,” Illuzzi told jurors.
Sciorra initially fought off the producer’s advances. “He starts backing her into the bedroom,” Illuzzi said. “He’s pushing her back, and he’s backing her up and he’s backing her up. … Next thing you know, he grabs her and throws her on the bed.”
Despite Sciorra’s punches, kicks and struggle, Weinstein overpowered her and proceeded to rape her.
“All of her fight is gone” after the attack, the prosecutor described. “She was in shock, she was in horror, and she was alone,” Illuzzi said.
Weinstein had physically backed other witnesses into bedrooms and bathrooms.
Former “Project Runway” production assistant Mimi Haleyi that Weinstein testified at trial that Weinstein lunged at her in his Manhattan apartment in 2006, backed her into a bedroom and forced oral sex on her.
“She’s trying to get up, and he’s planting her back,” Illuzzi recalled Friday from Haleyi’s testimony.
Iluzzi said that Weinstein frightened and intimidated Sciorra the one time she confronted about the attack in the 1990s. “It was threatening, and I was afraid of him,” Sciorra had testified during the trial.
Illuzzi said that Sciorra represented a big concern to Weinstein during summer of 2017 — so much so that he hired Black Cube, the private intelligence agency run by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies, to investigate her.
“Annabella is in his industry,” she said “Annabella is having dinner and talking to Uma Thurman and dated Gary Oldman.”
Weinstein’s other victims lacked Sciorra’s standing in the industry. They “were never gonna be strong enough, bold enough or brave enough to tell … but Annabella, someone might believe her,” Illuzzi said.
Turning to the trial’s lone witness whom Weinstein is charged with raping, Illuzzi countered the defense’s assertion that Jessica Mann was Weinstein’s “regular mistress.”
“Let’s imagine for a moment that that is true,” Illuzzi granted rhetorically: that Mann really had been the mistress of powerful Hollywood producer,
“Where are the gifts?” she asked. “Where is the jewelry? Where are the cars?”
“They don’t exist,” she said, telling jurors that reality of their abusive relationship was closer to “Harvey Weinstein’s rag doll” than Hollywood mistress.
Across her three days of testimony, Mann, 34, was at times spacey or punchy and often deficient when pressed to recall details or specifics. One day of testimony was cut short when she began sobbing uncontrollably.
Illuzzi urged jurors to believe Mann’s testimony that Weinstein raped her on March 18, 2013, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. “She’s telling you the truth: She’s a victim of rape,” Illuzzi said.
Shortly before 1 p.m. Friday, Illuzzi told jurors that the women who came forward to testify against Weinstein had “sacrificed their dignity and sacrificed their privacy to have their voices heard,” and urged them to find Weinstein guilty on all charges.
Tina Glandian, the celebrity lawyer representing actor Jussie Smollett, sat in one of the two rows reserved for supporters of Weinstein’s defense during closing arguments Friday. Smollett is charged in Illinois with six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly faking claims that he was the victim of a hate crime.
The prosecution’s side of the courtroom gallery during on Friday included Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Haleyi and witness Lauren Young, and attorney Douglas Wigdor, who represents witness Tarale Wulff, who testified that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 2005.
Prosecutors in Los Angeles have charged Weinstein for allegedly groping Lauren Young in his hotel suite in Beverly Hills in 2013.
Following a three-day weekend, Manhattan Supreme Judge James Burke will instruct the jury on the charges Tuesday morning before they begin deliberations.