Harvey Weinstein, the fallen mogul, has appointed a new defence lawyer who appeared to a New York court on Thursday ahead of the start of his trial on rape and sexual harassment charges. The new legal team includes the powerful attorney specialising in defending men in sexual harassment cases — Donna Rotunno, who without a second thought blasted the #MeToo movement as she stepped into the spotlight. “The emotion of this case has taken over,” said attorney Rotunno in a post-hearing while fellow defender, Damon Cheronis added, “There is a truth you have not reported on.”
Weinstein is going into trial for being charged with five sex crimes, including allegations of sexual assault and rape. His official trial will begin on September 9.
Weinstein’s former lawyers — Ronald Sullivan and Jose Baez were granted permission to leave the case. His latest legal team, led by two Chicago-based criminal defence lawyers, Rotunno and Damon Cheronis, are already on the spotlight, garnering controversy.
Rotunno assured Weinstein of being “railroaded” by the #MeToo movement. “Movements allow emotion to take over,” she said to Weinstein during her brief remarks. Weinstein, who faces five counts of sexual assault and misconduct stemming from reported incidents in 2006 and 2013, has been denying all the changes since beginning stating that the sexual encounters were consensual.
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In a previous interview Rotunno told Chicago magazine that the #MeToo movement had done a disservice to women. “I’m not a woman who has ever subscribed to it,” she said. “I believe women are responsible for the choices that they make.”
She later told the Wall Street Journal that “by representing the movie producer, she hoped to encourage women to take responsibility for their actions, and say to women: ‘Maybe don’t go to the hotel room, maybe we are having a different conversation.’”
Baez wrote the judge a letter last month, saying, “Mr. Weinstein has engaged in behaviour that makes this representation unreasonably difficult to carry out effectively and has insisted upon taking actions with which I have fundamental disagreements.”
“I agree that women should be responsible for their choices, but when will Mr. Weinstein be responsible for his?” Allred said. “Many accusers allege that Mr. Weinstein lured them to his hotel room under false pretences that he wanted to assist them in their careers. I challenge Mr. Weinstein to testify under oath and deny this. We will see then who the jury believes.”
Feature Image Credit: Vogue