Harvey Weinstein Defense Rests Its Case
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Harvey Weinstein's defense team has rested its case. He's the former Hollywood film producer accused by more than 80 women of sexual misconduct. And he's charged with five counts of rape and assault against two women in New York City. I want to note that this next story obviously deals with the subject of sexual violence.
It's NPR's Rose Friedman who's been in the courthouse each day and joins us now to talk more about the story. Rose, to begin, we've heard from a number of women in this trial, meaning they've taken the stand saying they were raped or assaulted. What did the defense have to say?
ROSE FRIEDMAN, BYLINE: Well, Weinstein's side doesn't actually have to prove anything. All they have to do is make the jury doubt that he's guilty. So they tried to knock holes in the women's testimony by calling people who could refute different parts of their stories. Weinstein is charged with raping a woman named Jessica Mann in 2013, with forcing oral sex on a former production assistant named Miriam Haley in 2006 and raping actress Annabella Sciorra in the winter of 1993. Her story actually isn't its own charge; it's being used to bolster the most serious charges. And Weinstein has just maintained that all of those were consensual.
CORNISH: How did the defense actually make that case, though? I mean, were there witnesses that they could call?
FRIEDMAN: Yeah. They started making the case when they got to cross-examine the women - by trying to damage their credibility, suggesting they don't actually remember the incidents or that they've changed their stories over the course of the investigation.
And then when it was their turn to call witnesses, they began to bring in people who were around at the times that these things were alleged to have happened - who could say, you know, it didn't happen that way, it didn't happen at all or it couldn't have happened that way. So that included two different friends of Jessica Mann's. One friend said Mann's relationship with Weinstein had seemed consensual at the time and that Mann had once called Weinstein her spiritual soulmate. Another said Mann wasn't acting abnormally right after the alleged rape. They also called a building manager who said Weinstein would not have been able to come up to Annabella Sciorra's apartment unannounced. And they called a male friend of Sciorra's who said that her incident was consensual.
CORNISH: I want to talk about how this is playing out in court - an actual courtroom versus the court of public opinion. Obviously, Weinstein's cases is so high profile, and so many women have come out with allegations. But what does that mean here in this courtroom?
FRIEDMAN: Yeah. In court, this is a really hard case to prove. There's very little physical evidence, so the prosecution is hoping that the jury will find at least some of these women credible. They've asked the judge to allow three other women who aren't part of the charges to testify in order to establish a pattern of Weinstein's behavior. But these are crimes that allegedly happened in a room between two people, so it really comes down to whether the jury believes that these encounters were unwanted.
CORNISH: And when do jury deliberations begin?
FRIEDMAN: They start next week. If Weinstein is convicted on the most serious charge, he could face life in prison. And then after that, he's still facing charges in LA.
CORNISH: And I know we'll follow up with you of course, also, for closing arguments in that case. That's NPR's Rose Friedman in New York.
Thanks for your reporting.
FRIEDMAN: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.