Jurors are expected to begin hearing closing arguments Wednesday in the trial of disgraced former film producer Harvey Weinstein, who is charged with sex-related counts involving four women, including Gov. Gavin Newsom’s wife.
The jury is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday morning for the end of the defense’s portion of the case, and is then set to receive jury instructions from Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench before the prosecution begins its closing argument.
Closing arguments are likely to continue Thursday.
Jurors heard during the trial from the four alleged victims, including the governor’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who told jurors she still lives with the trauma of being raped and sexually assaulted by Weinstein in a Beverly Hills hotel room 17 years ago.
Siebel Newsom — who was referred to in court only as “Jane Doe #4” but has been publicly identified by her attorney — wrapped up her testimony with an emotional outburst when asked if she intended to have sex with Weinstein when she went to his suite at The Peninsula in September 2005.
“No!” she said, her voice filled with emotion.
Weinstein, now 70, was indicted on 11 sex-related charges involving five women, including one count each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation involving the governor’s wife.
Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson told the judge outside the jury’s presence on Nov. 15 that the prosecution was not going to proceed with four counts — two counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation involving “Jane Doe #5,” who had not been mentioned in the prosecution’s opening statement. Those charges were subsequently dismissed by the judge.
The prosecutor told jurors in his opening statement Oct. 24 that the alleged victims feared that Weinstein could crush their careers if they reported the allegations. He said one model came forward soon afterward to report Weinstein’s alleged attack on her in a New York hotel room in 2015.
“At the time this was the most powerful person in the industry,” Thompson quoted one of the women as saying, while he said another referred to Weinstein as “the king.”
Each of the alleged victims referred to the alleged attacks while talking to family members or friends, the prosecutor said, noting that the governor’s wife had a conversation with actress Daphne Zuniga, who testified during Weinstein’s trial.
Weinstein did not testify in his own defense.
Defense attorney Mark Werksman contended in his opening statement that two of the alleged victims named in the charges “just made it up” and that it was “transactional sex” for the other two women.
“You will see that these were all consensual sexual relations or, in some cases, they didn’t happen at all,” Werksman said. “Mr. Weinstein is an innocent man who is not guilty of the charges in this indictment.”
Of “Jane Doe #4,” Werksman said then that she has been a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement, and said that, “Otherwise, she’d just be another bimbo who slept with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood.”
Werksman told jurors Weinstein’s accusers were “women who willingly played the game by the rules applied back then” and now “claim they were raped and sexually assaulted.”
“He’s not Brad Pitt or George Clooney. He’s not hot,” Weinstein’s lawyer said. “They had sex with him because he was powerful …”
Weinstein was extradited from New York, where he was convicted of raping an aspiring actress and of a criminal sex act against a former production assistant. The state’s highest court has since agreed to hear his appeal involving that case.
He remains behind bars.