Jury begins deliberations in Harvey Weinstein sexual assault trial
The jury began deliberations Tuesday in Harvey Weinstein's trial after often-emotional testimony from multiple women who accused him of sexual assault. The jury panel of five women and seven men began weighing the evidence that Weinstein raped aspiring actress Jessica Mann in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performed oral sex on another woman, TV and film production assistant Mimi Haley, in 2006.
Other accusers including actress Annabella Sciorra testified as part of the prosecution's effort to show he used the same tactics to victimize many women over the years.
Before the jury was called in to court on Tuesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys sparred over an opinion piece written by Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno published in Newsweek over the weekend. The piece urged jurors to "look past the headlines" and "do what they know is right."
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said writing the piece was "completely 100% inappropriate behavior" and said "it borders on tampering with the jury."
"There's no way Ms. Rotunno did this without the prompting and encouragement and knowledge and permission of this defendant," Illuzzi said.
Rotunno argued the opinion piece is "about the jury system as a whole," and defense attorney Damon Cheronis said the jury has already been instructed not to read media about the case.
Judge James Burke barred Rotunno from communicating with the press for the remainder of the case, and referenced the "tentacles of your public relations juggernaut."
Burke later called the jury into the courtroom and read them instructions on how they should weigh the five charges against Weinstein.
"You and you alone are the judges of the facts and you and you alone are responsible for deciding whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty," Burke said.
The jury received the case just before 11:30 a.m.
Weinstein, 67, maintains any sexual conduct was consensual.
Haley, a former "Project Runway" production assistant, testified that Weinstein pushed her onto a bed and sexually assaulted her, undeterred by her kicks and pleas of "No, please don't do this, I don't want it."
Mann sobbed in court as she described how she sent Weinstein flattering emails and kept seeing him after the alleged rape because "I wanted him to believe I wasn't a threat."
Illuzzi said in her closing argument Friday that Weinstein treated the women who accused him like "complete disposables" and made them feel ashamed even though he was the one who was at fault.
"What he wants to do is he wants to get them in a situation where they feel stupid. If you feel stupid and belittled, belittled, stupid people do not complain," the prosecutor told jurors.
But Rotunno said in her closing argument last week that the prosecutors had "created a universe that strips adult women of common sense, autonomy and responsibility."
Rotunno suggested that, according to prosecutors, Weinstein's accusers "are not even responsible for sitting at their computers sending emails to someone across the country."
– Reporting by The Associated Press and CBS News' Cassandra Gauthier
First published on February 18, 2020 / 12:26 PM
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