Two hours into her closing statement at the Manhattan rape trial that could send Harvey Weinstein to prison for life, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi grew contemplative. “It’s very interesting,” said Illuzzi. “Because let’s face it: The defendant didn’t have to trick women into his lair. There are professional sex workers that you could get without tricking them into your lair. But maybe his kink is the fear.”
Her last two lines met a chorus of objections from Weinstein’s lawyers.
Illuzzi’s three-hour closing statement arrived on Valentine’s Day and capped off four weeks of arguments in Weistein’s trial for the alleged sexual assaults of Miriam Haley in 2006 and Jessica Mann in 2013. Six women ultimately testified about Weinstein’s alleged sexual abuses, including Sopranos actor Annabella Sciorra. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and denies all nonconsensual sex allegations. Sciorra’s testimony that Weinstein raped her in the winter of 1993–1994 came in support of the two counts of predatory sexual assault that he faces. Prosecutors called the other three women to illustrate Weinstein’s alleged pattern of behavior.
“They didnt come for a beauty contest,” said Illuzzi of the six women. “They didnt come for money. They didn’t come for fame. They came to be heard. They sacrificed their dignity, their privacy, and their peace for the prospect that their voices would be enough for justice.”
One day prior, defense attorney Donna Rotunno had argued just the opposite, accusing the women of revising their personal histories to fit in with the #MeToo narrative and to pursue lawsuits. Illuzzi rebutted the latter accusation directly: “How dare he, with five lawyers sitting there every day from different states, complain about these women having lawyers?”
Illuzzi painted a picture of a serial predator who used his resources to “run roughshod” over women. She opened with Sciorra’s story, which included the alleged rape and Weinstein’s apparent attempts to hush it up. At one point, Illuzzi displayed an email that Weinstein sent to his crisis PR team two days before Sciorra’s allegation first appeared on the website of the New Yorker.
“This was consensual or deny it,” wrote Weinstein.
“This was consensual or deny it?” Illuzzi asked in a tone of disbelief “‘Consensual’ or ‘deny it’ are the polar opposites of each other.”
She windmilled an arm to point at the screen: “I submit to you, that’s a confession.”
Illuzzi wove descriptions of each woman’s allegations with excerpts from the testimony of forensic psychiatrist Dr. Barbara Ziv about rape trauma and why a victim might stay in touch with an attacker. Haley and Mann both stayed in touch with Weinstein after their alleged assaults. Haley had one other sexual encounter with Weinstein at a later date; Illuzzi described this as “the defendant violat[ing] her again, but this time she doesn’t resist it.”
Mann had a years-long relationship with Weinstein that also included consensual sex, a fact the defense has leaned much of its case on. She said that Weinstein violated her consent by allegedly trapping her in a Manhattan hotel room and raping her in 2013.
“Jessica Mann could have been completely head over heels in love with Harvey Weinstein,” Illuzzi said. “She could have had his name tattooed on her arm. She could have been writing him love notes every single day. She could have been married to him. If all of that was true, it still wouldn’t make a difference, he still wouldn’t be allowed to rape her.”