With jury deliberation scheduled to begin Tuesday, lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi is delivering her closing argument to convict Weinstein of sexual crimes. “He took away her peace,” she said of actress Annabella Sciorra.
On Friday morning, lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi put a bow on the State of New York’s case against Harvey Weinstein, calling the former movie mogul an “abusive rapist” who manipulated and abused women who wanted to break into the entertainment industry.
Weinstein, she said, viewed himself as “the master of his universe, and the witnesses here were really ants who he could step on without consequences.”
Illuzzi argued that Weinstein kept in touch with his alleged victims, through email exchanges that have been seized on by the defense, “as a little check” to make sure they wouldn’t make accusations against him. The two primary witnesses in the case, Jessica Mann and Miriam Haley, both faced questions during their testimony about why they stayed in touch with Weinstein, occasionally sending him “loving” emails.
She began her presentation by talking about Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, who testified that Weinstein raped her in the winter of 1993. “Her life was good, really good,” she said. “And the defendant took away that happiness. He took away her peace.”
Without using a microphone, Illuzzi spoke directly to the men and women of the jury, pacing back and forth while making her points with animated gestures.
Donna Rotunno, Weinstein’s lead defense attorney, said in her closing argument on Thursday that the prosecution has “weaved a story” over the last few weeks to paint Weinstein as a “monster.”
“The district attorney has failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt,” she told the 12 men and women of the jury. “On behalf of Mr. Weinstein, we are imploring you to have the courage to tell them that by saying ‘not guilty.'”
On Friday, Illuzzi contested Rotunno’s suggestion that Sciorra invented her accusation against Weinstein so she could become a “star” again,” adding: “She has new agents. Now, she’s the darling of the movement of the minute.” (Her talent agency, CAA, contested that characterization.)
“How Hollywood movie star is it for Annabella Sciorra to have to tell you that she was cutting herself and she was dabbing her blood with a tissue, putting it on the wall, and putting gold foil over it?” Illuzzi asked the jury. “Do you think that’s a career booster?”
Of the six women who testified that Weinstein sexually assaulted them, the prosecutor asked: “Did it look like they were having fun up there? Or, did it look like that was horrible and grueling?”
Illuzzi said that Weinstein was particularly worried about Sciorra coming forward because “she is in his world” and is friends with powerful people. The other five accusers in the case, she said, are “complete disposables” to him.
She also accused former film producer Paul Feldsher of a “complete fiction” when he testified last week that Sciorra had downplayed her interaction with Weinstein in a conversation in the early 1990s. “He’s here to help a pal,” she said.
Weinstein, 67, faces five criminal charges: two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of first-degree criminal sexual act, one court of rape in the first degree and one count of rape in the third degree. If convicted of predatory sexual assault, Weinstein could be sentenced to life in jail.
Illuzzi’s closing argument is expected to last into the late afternoon. The jury will begin deliberation on Tuesday morning.