Harvey Weinstein believed he was so powerful he could get away with denigrating aspiring actresses drawn into a world where he considered them “complete disposables”, a prosecutor has said.
Joan Illuzzi-Orbon was delivering closing arguments at the fallen movie mogul’s rape trial in New York City.
“The universe is run by me and they don’t get to complain when they get stepped on, spit on, demoralised and, yes, raped and abused by me — the king,” Ms Illuzzi-Orbon 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 gave evidence.
Ms Illuzzi told jurors that aside from the more successful Sciorra, the others were “complete disposables. They were never going to be in his world”.
She also showed a side-by-side comparison of Sciorra’s evidence about confronting Weinstein in the mid-1990s after he allegedly raped her and similar evidence from his rape accuser 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 told the court. With the click of a button, the rape accuser’s evidence popped up: “His eyes changed and he was not there. They were very black and he ripped me up.”
Ms Illuzzi’s closing came a day after the defence offered an 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 a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on a different woman, Mimi Haleyi, in 2006. Other accusers including Sciorra gave evidence as part of a prosecution effort to show he used the same tactics to victimise many women over the years.
In response to defence claims that Ms Haleyi and the alleged rape victim were opportunists who had consensual sex with Weinstein because they thought it would help their careers, prosecutors were seeking to focus the jury’s attention on accusers’ harrowing accounts alleging rapes, forced oral sex, groping, masturbation, lewd propositions and casting couch experiences.
Some women said Weinstein ignored pleas of “no, no, no” as he assaulted them. The woman Weinstein is charged with raping said he would turn violent when he could not get his way and added: “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.
The prosecution’s task has been complicated because the women he is charged with assaulting did not abandon him after the alleged encounters.
In her closing argument on Thursday, Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno accused prosecutors of creating an alternative 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.”