Weinstein’s lawyer says accusers have a choice in sexual encounters

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During a five-hour closing debate, lawyer Donna Rotunno argued that Weinstein’s accusers had chosen to engage in consensual relationships and often negotiate with him to develop their own careers.

Rotunno said prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office woven a “sinister story” during Weinstein’s rape case, depicting him as a monster and his accusers as innocent, passive victims. But, he contended, the prosecution did not have the evidence to prove it.

“In their story, they have created a universe that pulls adult women out of common sense, autonomy and responsibility,” she said. “In their universe women are not responsible for the parties they attend, the men they flirt with, the choices they make to further their own careers, the hotel room invitations, the plane tickets they receive, the jobs they ask for help getting. ”

Weinstein, 67, a former powerhouse producer in Hollywood, has pleaded not guilty to five felony charges, including rape, criminal sexual assault and predatory sexual assault. Prosecutors will serve closing remarks on Friday. The jury of seven men and five women will begin deliberations on Tuesday.

For a month, Weinstein listened as six women took the stand and testified that he had sexually assaulted them. He refused to testify himself.

He faces charges based on the allegations of only two of his accusers: Jessica Mann, a former actress who witnessed her rape in a Manhattan town center hotel in 2013, and Miriam Haley, a former production assistant on her show “Project Runway , ”Who said he forced oral sex on her in his Tribeca apartment in 2006.

The two women in cross-examination acknowledged that they not only had friendly communications with Weinstein after their alleged attacks, but later had consensual sex with him.

The presiding judge, Justice James M. Burke, allowed four other women to testify about their own encounters so prosecutors can establish a pattern of conduct, even though their allegations are too old to be charged as crimes under New York state law. Actress Annabella Sciorra, for example, stood under the legal theory that her evidence would support allegations of predatory sexual assault, which carries a life sentence.

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