Harvey Weinstein

Jury Begins Hearing Closing Arguments in Harvey Weinstein's Trial

The jury in the sexual assault trial against former film producer Harvey Weinstein began hearing closing arguments.

Harvey Weinstein
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

A prosecutor told jurors Wednesday in Harvey Weinstein's trial on sexual assault charges that the disgraced former film producer used his power in the entertainment industry to prey on and silence women.

In the first day of her closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez told the downtown Los Angeles jury that Weinstein was a "titan of the film industry'' whose "trick was to lure women'' through "pathetic, desperate'' pleas -- sometimes under the guise of business meetings -- to "get these women where he wants them'' in hotel rooms where they were "not able to run.''

Weinstein, now 70, is charged with sex-related counts involving four women, including Gov. Gavin Newsom's wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who told jurors she still lives with the trauma of being raped and sexually assaulted by Weinstein in a Beverly Hills hotel room 17 years ago.

Jurors also heard from four other women who were allegedly sexually assaulted by Weinstein, but are not listed as charged victims in the case.

"These are eight women who do not know each other... They all describe the same conduct by the same man,'' Martinez said.

"In a word, he was powerful... He used that power to prey on women, to silence women. There is no question that Harvey Weinstein (was) a predator,'' Martinez said, showing jurors a photo of a wolf on the large courtroom screen.

Martinez is set to continue her closing argument Thursday morning, with the defense then set to give its final argument. Jurors are also expected to hear a rebuttal argument from the prosecution before being handed the case.

Weinstein was indicted on 11 sex-related charges involving five women, but Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson told the judge outside the jury's presence Nov. 15 that the prosecution was not going to proceed with four counts -- two counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation involving "Jane Doe #5,'' who had not been mentioned in the prosecution's opening statement.

Those charges were subsequently dismissed by Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench.

Two of the existing charges -- forcible rape and forcible oral copulation -- stem from the alleged attack on Siebel Newsom, a documentary film producer, at his suite at The Peninsula Beverly Hills in September 2005. Siebel Newsom was referred to in court only as "Jane Doe #4,'' but has been publicly identified by her attorney.

Weinstein is also facing one additional count each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation along with one count of sexual penetration by a foreign object involving another alleged victim in 2013, and two counts of sexual battery by restraint involving two other women in 2010 and 2013.

Weinstein did not testify in his own defense.

Defense attorney Mark Werksman contended in his opening statement that two of the alleged victims named in the charges "just made it up'' and that it was "transactional sex'' for the other two women.

"You will see that these were all consensual sexual relations or, in some cases, they didn't happen at all,'' Werksman said. "Mr. Weinstein is an innocent man who is not guilty of the charges in this indictment.''

Of "Jane Doe #4,'' Werksman said then that she has been a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement, and said that, "Otherwise, she'd just be another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood.''

Werksman told jurors Weinstein's accusers were "women who willingly played the game by the rules applied back then'' and now "claim they were raped and sexually assaulted.''

"He's not Brad Pitt or George Clooney. He's not hot,'' Weinstein's lawyer said. "They had sex with him because he was powerful."

Weinstein was extradited from New York, where he was convicted of raping an aspiring actress and of a criminal sex act against a former production assistant. The state's highest court has since agreed to hear his appeal involving that case.

He remains behind bars.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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