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Weinstein saw accusers as "complete disposables," prosecutor says in closing arguments

Prosecutors argue Weinstein victims did not consent

Harvey Weinstein believed he was so powerful he could get away with treating aspiring actresses as "complete disposables," a prosecutor said on Friday in closing arguments at his New York City rape trial. Joan Illuzzi-Orbon started her closing statement by showing a photo of Weinstein on the red carpet, saying he believed he was the "master of the universe" and used  his power to run "roughshod over the dignity" of his accusers.

"The universe is run by me and they don't get to complain when they get stepped on, spit on, demoralized and, yes, raped and abused by me — the king," she said, mimicking Weinstein.

Using a TV monitor next to the jury box, the prosecutors displayed photos of "Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra and five other accusers who also testified. Illuzzi told jurors that aside from the more successful Sciorra, the others were "complete disposables. They were never going to be in his world."

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Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan courthouse for his rape trial in New York, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.  AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Illuzzi detailed the account of Sciorra, who said Weinstein barged his way into her Manhattan apartment after a dinner in late 1993 or early 1994, pinned her to a bed and raped her.
 
"She fought, she punched, she kicked, she did whatever she could until she could not struggle anymore," Illuzzi said.
 
Illuzzi also recounted the testimony of Dr. Barbara Ziv, a psychiatrist who testified about victim behavior after a sexual assault, to explain why Sciorra was fearful that speaking up about the attack would damage her career.

"What does Dr. Ziv say?" Illuzzi said. "I don't want this individual who had sexually assaulted me to ruin my reputation, ruin my friendships, put my job in jeopardy."

Illuzzi's closing comes a day after the defense offered an epic, hours-long closing argument painting the prosecution's case as a "sinister tale" and the allegations as "regret renamed as rape."

Weinstein, 67, is charged with raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on production assistant Mimi Haley in 2006. Other accusers, including Sciorra, testified as part of a prosecution effort to show he used the same tactics to victimize many women over the years.

In response to defense claims that the alleged victims were opportunists who had consensual sex with Weinstein because they thought it would help their careers, Illuzzi sought to focus the jury's attention on the women's harrowing accounts, alleging rapes, forced oral sex, groping, masturbation, lewd propositions and "casting couch" experiences. She said the accusers "sacrificed their privacy" to testify.

"They didn't come for a beauty contest, they didn't come for money, they didn't come for fame," Illuzzi said.

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A courtroom sketch pictures Harvey Weinstein, left, looking on as his attorney Donna Rotunno, center, questions accuser Jessica Mann Christine Cornell

Some women testified that Weinstein ignored pleas of "no, no, no" as he assaulted them. Mann said he would turn violent when he couldn't get his way: "If he heard the word 'no,' it was like a trigger for him."

Another woman recalled Weinstein sneering, "You'll never make it in this business, this is how this industry works," when she laughed off his advances.

Illuzzi also showed a side-by-side comparison of Sciorra's testimony about confronting Weinstein in the mid-1990s after he allegedly raped her and similar testimony by Mann about how the mogul reacted when she told him she had a boyfriend in 2013.

"His eyes went black and I thought he was going to hit me right there," Sciorra testified. 

With the click of a button, Mann's testimony popped up: "His eyes changed and he was not there. They were very black and he ripped me up  from my chair and the table and he was screaming 'You owe me, you owe me one more time.'"

"This is literally 23 years apart, women who had never met each other, and facts that are so detailed," Illuzzi told the jury. "This is the way you are experiencing what these women experienced right along with them."
 
She also cited similarities in the testimony of Mann and Haleyi, both of whom said Weinstein made them feel "stupid," calling it a part of Weinstein's scheme to ensure they didn't speak up. 
 
"Belittled and stupid people do not complain," Illuzzi said. "They don't stick up for themselves and they sure as hell don't complain about their shame in a public place and a public setting."

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Mimi Haleyi arrives to testify in Harvey Weinstein's trial on charges of rape and sexual assault, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020 in New York. Mark Lennihan / AP

The prosecution's task has been complicated because the women he's charged with assaulting maintained contact with Weinstein after the alleged encounters.  The defense has zeroed in on warm wording in emails and other communications between Weinstein and some accusers that continued for months or even years after the alleged attacks.

In her closing argument Thursday, Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno likened prosecutors to movie producers "writing the script," creating an alternate universe that "strips adult women of common sense, autonomy, and responsibility."

"In this script the powerful man is the villain and he's so unattractive and large, that no woman would ever want to sleep with him voluntarily. Regret does not exist in this world, only regret renamed as rape," Rotunno said in remarks that went on for more than 4½ hours.
 
Illuzzi countered on Friday by focusing on allegations by Haleyi that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his Soho apartment in 2006.

"When an adult goes to another adult's home, should they expect that they have to engage in sex?" the prosecutor asked. "By going to Harvey Weinstein's home, did she deserve what she got?"

She added: "There are no blurred lines here. This is a crime and a wanton disregard of other people."

Rotunno on Thursday said the e-mail communications between Mann and Weinstein were so voluminous that if she described them all, Mann "would still be on the witness stand." She pointed to emails in which Mann wrote "miss you big guy" and "thank you for your unfailing support and kindness."

"Not words you say to your rapist," Rotunno said.

Prosecution rests case against Harvey Weinstein

But Illuzzi pointed to testimony by Ziv, the psychiatrist, who said it's common for sexual assault victims to maintain contact with their assailants. Illuzzi also pointed to the testimony of Mann herself, who said, "I know about the emails, I'm not ashamed of them. This is why I'm still here."

"I know the history of my relationship with him. I know it is complicated and different but it does not change the fact that he raped me," Mann said.

Illuzzi also said that part of Weinstein's scheme was to keep in contact with his accusers so he could point to those encounters as evidence nothing happened, essentially "preparing for a moment just like this."

Case in point, she said: In October 2017, Weinstein replied to an email from a publicist giving him a heads up that Sciorra was about to go public in a Ronan Farrow story by writing: "Annabella did cop land."

Instructing his publicist on how to respond to the article, Weinstein wrote: "this was consensual or deny it."

"I submit to you that was a confession," Illuzzi told jurors over the defense's denied objection.

The jury was sent home for the day with deliberations set to begin on Tuesday.

-- Reporting by The Associated Press and CBS News' Cassandra Gauthier

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