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Weinstein in court today.
Weinstein in court today.
Image: PA

Prosecutors rest case at Weinstein rape trial

Harvey Weinstein maintains that any sexual encounters were consensual.
Feb 6th 2020, 8:30 PM 10,880 0

PROSECUTORS IN HARVEY Weinstein’s rape trial have rested their case after more than two weeks of evidence punctuated by harrowing accounts from six women who say the disgraced film mogul ignored pleas and excused his behaviour as a Hollywood norm.

Now Weinstein’s lawyers will start calling witnesses of their own, including a psychologist who specialises in human memory.

The defence is looking to raise doubts about the women’s recollections of encounters that in some cases are more than a decade or two old.

Weinstein, 67, maintains that any sexual encounters were consensual.

The criminal charges at the trial in New York City are based on allegations that Weinstein raped a woman in March 2013 and that he forced oral sex on another woman, a TV and film production assistant, in 2006.

The allegations against Weinstein helped fuel the #MeToo movement.

Prosecutors rested their case after the last of the other accusers finished telling jurors about an encounter with Weinstein in 2013.

Lauren Marie Young, a model from suburban Philadelphia, alleged that Weinstein invited her to his Beverly Hills hotel room, lured her to the bathroom, stripped off his clothes, pulled down her dress and groped her breast.

Additional women, including Ms Young, have been allowed to give evidence as prosecutors attempt to show there was a practised method to Weinstein’s alleged attacks, including inviting women to his hotel room to discuss business, then disrobing and demanding sexual favours.

Her evidence bookended that of the first accuser to testify, actress Annabella Sciorra, who alleges Weinstein barged into her apartment in the mid-1990s, threw her on a bed and raped her as she tried to fight him off by kicking and punching him.

In between, jurors heard similar stories of Weinstein ingratiating himself with much younger women, appearing to show interest in helping their careers before getting them into a hotel room or an apartment and allegedly violating them.

Jurors were also reminded of the complexity of the women’s relationships with Weinstein.

The woman Weinstein is charged with raping faced three days of questioning, much of it on cross-examination, as Weinstein’s lawyers scoured friendly, sometimes flirtatious emails she sent the film producer after the alleged assault.

The woman acknowledged meeting Weinstein for other sexual encounters.

She said she kept in touch because “his ego was so fragile”, and that contacting him “made me feel safe”.

At one point, Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno asked the woman why she would accept favours from “your rapist”.

The woman turned to jurors and declared: “I want the jury to know that he is my rapist.”

Yesterday, prosecutors showed jurors emails they did not see during that exhaustive cross-examination that showed it was Weinstein trying to keep their complex relationship afloat, pining for meetings as she latched on to excuses to avoid him.

After one instance of getting the cold shoulder, Weinstein emailed the woman’s roommate in October 2013, writing: “Tell your friend… I’m friendly.”

In December 2015, Weinstein asked the woman: “R u meeting me or forgetting me…”

The trial has moved far quicker than anyone involved anticipated.

Jurors were initially told to expect six weeks of evidence.

Now the case could be decided by mid-February.

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