Harvey Weinstein accused of ‘power, manipulation, abuse’ in prosecution’s closing argument

“Power. Manipulation. Abuse.” Those three words appeared on one of the first slides that Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi showed the jury on Friday morning as she began her summation in Harvey Weinstein’s criminal trial in New York. At times speaking softly and at times allowing her words to boom in the filled courtroom, Illuzzi began an impassioned argument that the six women who testified in the trial were the victims of a Hollywood titan who preyed upon young women seeking entry or respect in the industry he controlled.

“The defendant was the master of the universe and the witnesses were merely ants that he could step on without consequence,” Illuzzi said. “He also underestimated them. He made sure he had contact with the people he was worried about … to make sure that one day, they wouldn’t walk out from the shadows and call him exactly what he was: an abusive rapist. He was wrong.”

Illuzzi then began retelling the accounts of each woman, using images and emails previously submitted into evidence to visualize her argument.

Illuzzi’s summation comes a day after Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein’s lead attorneys, gave her own nearly five-hour closing argument before the jury. Rotunno accused the prosecution of being producers of their own project, creating a “universe” where women were not responsible for their own actions. She also exhaustively went through rebuttals for each woman’s accusation, showing emails and testimony that the defense believes proves the encounters with Weinstein were consensual.

Jury deliberations begin next Tuesday after the Presidents Day holiday. The panel must decide upon the five charges against Weinstein: two counts of predatory sexual assault, and one count each for a first-degree criminal sexual act and first- and third-degree rape. If convicted of the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault, Weinstein could face life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty and denied accusations of nonconsensual sex.