The prosecutor in the Harvey Weinstein trial urged a jury on Thursday to find him guilty on seven counts of rape and sexual assault.
“We know the despicable conduct the defendant engaged in,” said Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez. “We know he thought he was so powerful that people would excuse his behavior. ‘That’s just Harvey being Harvey.’ ‘That’s just Hollywood’ And for so long, that’s what everyone did. Everyone just turned their heads. It’s time for the defendant’s reign of terror to end.”
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Martinez wrapped up her closing argument on Thursday morning, after beginning on Wednesday afternoon. She went methodically through each of the counts, arguing that the prosecution had met its burden to find Weinstein guilty. She also displayed a composite photo of all eight women who had testified together.
Defense attorney Alan Jackson began his closing argument around 11 a.m., and spoke for an hour before taking a break for lunch. Jackson argued that each of the accusers had lied in her testimony, and that the prosecution’s case amounted to little more than “take my word for it.” He is expected to conclude his argument on Thursday afternoon. The prosecution will then have one more opportunity to speak before the case goes to the jury.
On Wednesday, Martinez said that Weinstein was a “titan” of Hollywood, who was also a “despicable rapist.”
“He used that power to prey on women, to silence women. He used that power to live his life without repercussion,” she said. “There is no question that Harvey Weinstein is a predator.” And like all predators, she argued, Weinstein “had a method.”
The prosecutor’s closing argument laid out Weinstein’s alleged behavior, seeking to showcase how all eight women who testified endured the same form of abuse with “unique similarities.” Martinez strung together a web of Weinstein’s patterns that, she pointed out, could be easily traced through his intentional and specific behavior to prey on each women with similar “tactics.”
“Here’s the thing,” Martinez said. “None of these eight women know each other — yet, they all describe the same conduct from the same man. The particulars of the conduct are so similar.”
Weinstein was intentional in targeting women, the prosecutor said, and he had a similar plan of attack for every women he allegedly assaulted.
First, he would “zero in” on a woman and seek them out at a crowded party to strike up a charming conversation. Then, he would have his staff set up a meeting, and he would give empty professional promises to aspiring actors, screenwriters or models who were excited about nabbing a sit-down with the most powerful man in Hollywood. During those meetings, he would point out their flaws and then put on a face of mentoring them to establish their trust. The meetings would be set up in a hotel lobby bar or restaurant but would always suddenly shift to Weinstein’s hotel suite, typically with the help of a female aide, who would help coordinate the meeting to make the women feel more comfortable. Once he got a woman in a hotel suite under the premise of a business meeting, Weinstein would ask for a massage, abruptly appear in a bathrobe, take off his clothes and assault them, often masturbating in front of them. He would always ignore their “pleas to stop,” the prosecutor said. After he assaulted women, he would normalize his behavior, threaten the women not to ruin their “friendship” and then offer something enticing to reel them back in, like an invitation to a party, an audition or a book deal. Of course, none of these offers ever came to fruition, the deputy D.A. said, but Weinstein’s continued communication helped “cover his tracks.”
“After all, if his victims were photographed at these parties,” Martinez said, “How could they accuse him of sexual assault or rape?… He always covered his tracks… All of these emails were just to cover up his bad deeds.”
“He knew what he was doing… he was a pro,” Martinez said. “He was trying to set this up, so his lawyers could come in here and tell us it was ‘transactional sex.’ And his plan worked. Here we are.”
Weinstein — who is already serving a 23-year sentence in New York — faces two counts of rape and five counts of sexual assault in this case.
He is accused of raping and sexually assaulting a European model and actress, known in the case as Jane Doe #1, in 2013 at Mr. C Beverly Hills, when she was visiting L.A. as a VIP guest at the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival. He is also accused of sexually assaulting aspiring actor and screenwriter Lauren Young, known as Jane Doe #2, that same year at the Montage in Beverly Hills, Calif., where she alleges Weinstein groped her and masturbated in front of her in a hotel bathroom at a purported business meeting. Jane Doe #3, a celebrity massage therapist, has accused Weinstein of masturbating in front of her numerous times, with the first alleged assault occurring in 2010. Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who is Jane Doe #4, is the most high-profile witness in the case as the First Partner of California and wife to Gov. Gavin Newsom. She has accused Weinstein of raping and sexually assaulting her in 2005 when she was an up-and-coming actor and filmmaker.
The prosecution also called an additional four women to the stand as uncharged witnesses, who testified about allegations of sexual assault or rape that all occurred during industry events, like TIFF, the BAFTAs or on-set of film productions or at casting meetings. Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who in 2015 was at the center of an NYPD sting operation against Weinstein, was one of those women who testified.
Most cases of sexual assault are largely he-said-she-said. But Gutierrez had Weinstein recorded on tape admitting to groping her breasts and persistently trying to get her into his hotel room. The lengthy audio was played for the jury during the trial. In closing arguments, the prosecutors utilized Gutierrez’s audio evidence to string together the rest of the women in the case, who do not have hard evidence of the alleged assaults that occurred behind closed doors.
“Everything that happened to Ambra happened to the other seven women,” Martinez said during closing arguments, playing snippets of the recording again for the jury to hear. “You heard with your own ears who and what Harvey Weinstein is,” she told jurors, referencing the audio recording. “It’s all there. You’ve heard it yourself from his own mouth.”
“Everything he says in there is echoed in every one of these women’s testimony,” Martinez said.
“There’s nothing about that that’s consensual. And they can’t deny it because it’s recorded,” the deputy D.A. said of Gutierrez in the recording, who was trying to fend off Weinstein’s advances. “How many times does he hear her say no, but he persists? His persistence might have made him a powerhouse in Hollywood, but to women, he was a predator.”
The prosecutor flowed between Gutierrez story and the other seven women, weaving together Weinstein’s alleged conduct that each of the women faced. “Sounds familiar, right?” Martinez often asked the jury.
In Gutierrez’s case, Weinstein allegedly groped her at a casting meeting at his office and then set up another meeting later at a hotel. She attended that meeting wearing a wire from the NYPD, and she did not go into the hotel suite, unlike all the other women. “He picked her out in a crowded room, asked his staff to set up a meeting and attended the meeting … all to carry out his predation,” Martinez said. “Weinstein wasn’t able to get her into that hotel room, but we all know what would have happened… She was not in his trap. She escaped.”
The other women, she said, did fall into Weinstein’s “trap” and were assaulted in hotel rooms — something Weinstein allegedly did to Jane Doe #1, Jane Doe #2, Jane Doe #3 and Jane Doe #4.
“Once they were isolated, he knew that their noes, their pleas and their cries would fall on deaf ears,” Martinez said, adding that in order to get the women up to the hotel room, he would use his female aides as a source of false comfort. “The trick was to lure women to hotels,” she said. “Another female was there to disguise his evil intent.”
The prosecutor noted that all of Weinstein’s female assistants or aides who testified during the trial did not recall key details when they were on the stand. They “didn’t deny” helping Weinstein lure women, the deputy D.A. said, but they “conveniently forgot” when “they put another woman in danger,” and those women were “extensively involved in the cover up,” Martinez argued.
Jane Doe #2, Young, testified that she met a woman at a party, Claudia Salinas, who knew Weinstein and offered to set up a meeting for her to pitch a script for the aspiring screenwriter. Once she arrived to the hotel lobby at the Montage for the meeting, she testified that Salinas helped usher her upstairs into a hotel room where she was trapped inside a bathroom and cornered for Weinstein to grope her and masturbate in front of her, ejaculating on the floor. (Salinas denied any wrongdoing during her testimony.)
“The lure was that Jane Doe #2 could pitch a script to the kingmaker in Hollywood… she thought her dreams were about to come true. And there’s nothing wrong with having dreams… that’s the magic of this city,” the prosecutor said. “The problem here in this case is when you have a dream, people will take advantage,” Martinez said, pointing at Weinstein in the courtroom, referring to him as “the monster at the end of the table.”
Jane Doe #4, Siebel Newsom, alleged that Weinstein raped her in 2005 during a purported business meeting that was supposed to be in a hotel lobby, but ended up being in a hotel room, after Weinstein’s assistant brought her to a suite and then suddenly disappeared.
“In 2005, who would have thought that the most powerful man in Hollywood was a closet rapist? Who could blame her for thinking that she could handle herself,” Martinez said of Siebel Newsom deciding to meet with Weinstein alone. “He was relentless.”
Martinez pointed to the testimony of one of Weinstein’s drivers, who said on the stand that he wouldn’t stop at a red light if Weinstein said to go. Martinez used this analogy throughout her argument to showcase Weinstein’s character beyond the streets.
“The rules do not apply to him… A woman’s desperate plea to stop is a green light for Harvey,” Martinez said. “He doesn’t obey red lights. He continued to do what he wants until he reaches his goal — until he reaches ejaculation.” (Most of the women who testified echoed a similar sentiment that Weinstein would masturbate in front of them and ejaculate onto the floor, during their alleged assaults.)
The prosecutor detailed how Weinstein would offer women professional advancements in order to lure them in, like Jane Doe #3, a massage therapist who testified that Weinstein masturbated in front of her, but he had dangled a carrot of a book deal to keep her engaged throughout the years, even setting up meetings with his staff, who testified that the prospect of a book deal for her was confusing. Or, a model named Natassia, who testified that Weinstein repeatedly assaulted her, raped her and tricked her into a threesome during hotel room meetings that were all under the guise of a possible audition for one of his major musical films, which kept her in touch with him over the years. Or, a former actor named Kelly, who alleged she was assaulted in the early 90’s at TIFF, and told the jury that Weinstein struck up a conversation with her at a party before telling her to come to his hotel room to see a script with a potential role for her.
“The predator had found his prey… The script was just a trick, a lure to get her into his hotel room,” Martinez said of Kelly. “She said ‘no.’ He just kept going and raped her… and just as he did with all of his victims, he offered her an audition.”
In the case of Jane Doe #3, Weinstein instantly mentioned a book deal when he met her at an appointment and then assaulted her. The prosecutor noted this an example of Weinstein’s “tactics,” stating that the book deal “was never actually going to happen. It wasn’t viable.”
“He knew he was going to sexually assault her,” Martinez said. “He wanted leverage over her… he was already laying the tracks for his cover-up… She had dreams and he exploited them… by offering something after he assaulted them.”
In the case of Siebel Newsom, the two remained in contact after Siebel Newsom alleged she was raped by Weinstein in 2005. In emails that the defense brought in as evidence, Siebel Newsom asked Weinstein for business advice throughout the years, and Weinstein gave political donations to her husband, Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“The defense will try to distract all of you from their client’s actions,” Martinez said, by trying to get the jury to believe it’s the women’s fault. But, she pointed out, the women were fearful that they had to stay in Weinstein’s good graces, given the power imbalance. “He was the entertainment industry,” Martinez said, adding that Siebel Newsom — and the other women — believed she had “to be on his good side” if she wanted to get anywhere in Hollywood. “Getting on the defendant’s bad side? That would guarantee your career is over. These women had so many dreams that they were not going to let this monster destroy.”
Many of the women who testified, like Jane Doe #3 and Siebel Newsom, stayed in touch with Weinstein over the years, and testified that they feared repercussions, retaliation or damage to their reputation from the most powerful man in the entertainment business.
The prosecutor told the jury that their deliberations are not to make a judgement on the women’s choices, after their alleged assault, but to focus on making a determination about Weinstein’s alleged abuse.
“We’re not here to judge people… We don’t have to agree with their decisions,” Martinez said. “He knew what he was doing… Harvey was one-track minded.”
Weinstein was originally facing 11 charges and a maximum sentence of 140 years, but the prosecution was not able to proceed in Jane Doe #5’s testimony, so Weinstein’s team won a motion for four charges to be dismissed. The jury will deliberate on seven charges that carry a possible 60-year sentence.
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