A lawyer for Harvey Weinstein at his Los Angeles rape and sexual assault trial has told jurors that the prosecution case relies entirely on asking them to trust women whose evidence showed they were untrustworthy.
“’Take my word for it’,” Alan Jackson told jurors in his closing argument. “Five words that sum up the entirety of the prosecution’s case.”
Everything else prosecutors presented, through a month of evidence from 44 witnesses, “was smoke and mirrors”, he added.
Weinstein is charged with raping and sexually assaulting two women and committing sexual battery against two others.
Mr Jackson urged jurors to look past the drama and emotion of the testimony of the four women, and focus on the factual evidence.
He said jurors were being asked to “believe us because we’re mad, believe us because we cried”, adding: “Well fury does not make fact. And tears do not make truth.”
Mr Jackson said the stories of two women who Weinstein allegedly sexually assaulted on consecutive days in 2013 “simply never happened”.
Weinstein’s alleged rape and assault of the other two women in 2005 and 2010 were “100% consensual” encounters that the women engaged in for the sake of career advancement that they later became “desperate to relabel” as non-consensual, the defence lawyer said.
“These were women with whom Harvey had transactional relationships and transactional sex,” he said.
Mr Jackson argued that the women were willing to exchange sex for favours or status when the incidents happened in 2005 and 2010, but after the MeToo explosion around Weinstein with stories in the New York Times and the New Yorker in 2017, they were regretful.
“They played the game. They hate it now, unequivocally,” he said. “But what about then? What about before the 2017 dogpile started on Mr Weinstein?”
He dwelled on a judge’s instruction he said was essential, that if jurors found that any significant thing a witness said was untrue, they should consider disbelieving everything the witness said.
The defence is set to finish its closing argument later, and after the prosecutor’s rebuttal, jurors will begin deliberations.
Weinstein is already serving a 23-year sentence for a conviction in New York.
Prosecutors completed their closing argument earlier on Thursday after giving most of it on Wednesday, and urged jurors to complete Weinstein’s fall from grace by convicting him in California.
“It is time for the defendant’s reign of terror to end,” deputy district attorney Marlene Martinez said. “It is time for the kingmaker to be brought to justice.”