World

Weinstein was ‘abusive rapist’: prosecutor

By AAP Newswire

Harvey Weinstein was a serial rapist who used his status as a Hollywood power broker to prey on women, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi has told US jurors.

Illuzzi began her closing argument, one that will help determine whether or not Weinstein goes free or spends the rest of his life in prison, with a question.

"What is this case about? Is it about the power, manipulation and abuse - is it merely about the power of abuse?" Illuzzi asked on Friday.

"Or is it that the defendant was the master of his universe and the witnesses here were merely ants that he could step on?

"Or did he feel like he had a sure-fire insurance policy that the witnesses wanted to get into his universe?" Illuzzi continued.

"They don't get to complain when they're stepped on, spit on, demoralised and then, yes, raped and abused by the defendant."

The prosecutor then mounted an attack on a central component of Weinstein's defence - that his victims had maintained contact with their alleged rapist after their attacks.

This was, Illuzzi argued, part of a larger strategy to discredit his victims.

"He also underestimated them," Illuzzi said.

"He made sure he had contact ... to make sure that one day they wouldn't call him for exactly what he was: an abusive rapist. Well, he was wrong."

The prosecution called six women to testify about their alleged assaults, but the case rests largely on the allegations of two of them: aspiring actress-turned-hairdresser Jessica Mann, and former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley.

Mann alleges that she was trapped in a predatory relationship with Weinstein, and accuses him of raping her at a DoubleTree Hotel in Manhattan in March 2013.

Haley has accused Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her at his apartment in Soho in 2006.

Actress Annabella Sciorra was also called to testify about her alleged rape at the hands of Weinstein.

Although her claims fall outside of the statute of limitations, prosecutors believed she would bolster their case and establish a pattern of behaviour.

Weinstein's attorneys have attempted to discredit Sciorra, claiming she used the allegation to revive her flagging career.

Illuzzi spoke about Sciorra's rape allegations for a full hour, contradicting yesterday's arguments made by the defence, telling jurors, "Annabella's event is very much part of the crimes charged here."