A New York prosecutor says former film producer Weinstein abused his power

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Setting the scene for the jury to begin deliberations next week in the week-long Weinstein sexual assault trial, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said Weinstein, 67, figured his victims never came forward.

“The defendant not only ran high over the dignity and lives of these witnesses, but also underestimated them,” he said.

The trial marks a milestone for the #MeToo movement, in which women have accused powerful men in business, entertainment, media and politics of sexual misconduct.

Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping ambitious actress Jessica Mann in 2013.

Justice James Burke is expected to give the jury legal instructions on Tuesday morning, after which they will begin deliberations.

Since 2017, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

The former producer, who was behind films including “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” has denied any non-consensual sex.

On Thursday, Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein’s lawyers, accused Weinstein’s accusers as unreliable and said that an “invasive” prosecution was trying to portray consensual sex as assault, and that women had to be “responsible” for their choices.

Attorney Gloria Allred sits in the front row of the gallery behind the defense during lockdown arguments in New York Criminal Court for the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault case in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, New York, US, February 14, 2020 in this courtroom sketch. . REUTERS

Attorney Gloria Allred sits in the front row of the gallery behind the defense during lockdown arguments in New York Criminal Court for the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault case in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, New York, US, February 14, 2020 in this courtroom sketch. . REUTERS

Illuzzi said Friday that all the women were credible and had no reason to lie.

“If they didn’t feel compelled to do this, would they put their families through this?” she asked. “Would they put themselves through the stress?”

She also pushed back against Rotunno’s argument about women’s responsibility.

“If you’ve been a victim of fraud, nobody’s going to say, well, you gave the accountant access to your money,” he said.

Haleyi testified during the case that Weinstein forced oral sex on her in his home in 2006. Mann testified that Weinstein raped her in a hotel room in Manhattan early on in what he called an “extremely degrading” relationship with him.

Illuzzi dismissed the defense’s assertion that Mann had a loving relationship with Weinstein, but also said it wouldn’t matter if she had been “head over heels in love with him.”

“He would not be raped on March 18 of 2013,” he said.

Jurors heard from four other women, including actress Annabella Sciorra, who testified that Weinstein came to her apartment one winter night in 1993 or 1994 and raped her. The charge is too old to be charged as a separate offense, but could act as an aggravating factor in support of the most serious charge in the case, predatory sexual assault, which carries a possible life sentence.

Prosecutors called the other three women to bolster their evidence of Weinstein’s intent, but they did not accuse him of any crimes involving them.

After the court wrapped up for the day, Rotunno told reporters that the evidence showed the accusers’ relationships with Weinstein were consensual.

“I think he’s confident. And this is a difficult situation for anyone to be in,” he said of Weinstein.