NEW YORK – Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon gave her closing argument on Friday in Harvey Weinstein’s trial on five charges of sexual assault.
She devoted a portion of her comments to responding to attacks by defense counsel on prosecution witness Annabella Sciorra, who told the jury that the once powerful film producer raped her at her New York home in the 1990s.
Weinstein, 67, is not charged with assaulting Sciorra in the current trial, as the alleged offense took place too long ago, but the prosecution had the Sopranos actress testify to establish a pattern of sexual misconduct by the defendant.
In her closing argument on Thursday, defense lawyer Donna Rotunno said that the prosecution included Sciorra for the sake of having a witness “with some star power.”
Neither of the two women whose claims lie behind the current charges against Weinstein – Jessica Mann and Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi – nor any of the three other women who testified against the defendant was a public figure prior to the trial.
Rotunno likewise impugned Sciorra’s motives for agreeing to testify, saying that the 59-year-old actress was seeking to “stay relevant” and to re-energize her acting career.
Illuzzi-Orbon dismissed the defense lawyer’s statements with a heavy dose of irony “How Hollywood movie star is it for Annabella to have to tell you she was cutting herself,” the prosecutor said, reminding jurors that Sciorra recounted having engaged in self-harm following the alleged rape.
“People with projects and movies are going to want that image connected to the films they put Annabella in? This is a big career move for Annabella Sciorra? Really?,” Illuzzi-Orbon said.
The prosecutor reviewed the testimony from Sciorra and the five other women and sought to explain gaps in their accounts by referring to the testimony of psychologist Barbara Ziv, called by the prosecution as an expert witness.
Ziv, the prosecutor reminded jurors, said that many victims do not report or talk about what happened to them because they don’t want to ruin their reputations, destroy friendships or jeopardize their employment.
Illuzzi-Orbon described Weinstein as an “extremely aggressive” sexual predator.
“He believed himself to be the king of his universe,” she said, gesturing to a photo of Weinstein on the red carpet surrounded by dozens of journalists.
She also recalled that defense witness Paul Feldsher, Weinstein’s friend and business associate, described the defendant as a sex addict.
The prosecutor also highlighted moments from the testimony of Sciorra and Mann, who both described instances when Weinstein’s “eyes turned black” with rage.
The trial is in recess until Tuesday, when the judge will instruct the jurors prior to their retiring to reach a verdict.
Weinstein is charged with five offenses involving Haleyi, who says he forced oral sex on her in 2006, and Mann, who accuses the the defendant of raping her in 2013.
If convicted on all counts, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Weinstein pleaded not guilty to all the charges and has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.