By Cheri Mossburg and Christina Maxouris, CNN
Both the defense and prosecution in the Los Angeles sexual assault trial against former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein concluded closing arguments Thursday, bringing the weekslong trial one step closer to jury deliberations.
A rebuttal from prosecutors to the defense attorney’s closing remarks is expected to begin Friday morning. Jurors will likely be sent off to make their decision shortly after.
Weinstein faces two counts of forcible rape and five counts of sexual assault involving four women — a model, a dancer, a massage therapist and a producer. He has pleaded not guilty to the seven charges against him.
Jurors heard from about 50 witnesses, including four accusers who were identified in court as Jane Does due to the nature of their allegations.
Additionally, four other women testified that similar incidents also occurred to them at Weinstein’s hands. Those alleged incidents are not being charged as part of this case because they happened outside of Los Angeles County.
Weinstein’s defense team has argued throughout the trial that the witnesses either fabricated their stories or had consensual relations with Weinstein and zeroed in on that point Thursday, with attorney Alan Jackson asking the jurors if they could “accept what (the Jane Does) say as gospel.”
“Five words that sum up the entirety of the prosecution’s case: ‘Take my word for it,'” Jackson said. “‘Take my word for it that he showed up at my hotel room unannounced. Take my word for it that I showed up at his hotel room. Take my word for it that I didn’t consent. Take my word for it, that I said no.'”
Jackson accused the women who testified of being “fame and fortune seekers,” saying some of the Jane Does made up their stories while others benefited from a “transactional relationship” with Weinstein.
Among the accusers is Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a producer, actress and the wife of California’s governor, who testified that she was raped by Weinstein in 2005. Siebel Newsom described an hours-long “cat-and-mouse period” that preceded her alleged assault.
Attorneys for Weinstein don’t deny the incident occurred, but say he believed it was consensual.
Jackson called the incident “consensual, transactional sex,” adding: “Regret is not the same thing as rape. And it’s important we make that distinction in this courtroom.”
In her closing arguments on Wednesday, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez called Weinstein a “titan” who used his power in Hollywood to prey on and silence women. Martinez said the reason Siebel Newsom continued to have contact with Weinstein after the alleged assault was because of his position in the industry.
As she finished her closing remarks on Thursday, Martinez highlighted the conditions that the women faced when they decided to testify in the trial, saying they knew it would be difficult and that “they would come to court and (Weinstein’s) attorneys (would) call them bimbos in open court for having been raped.”
“They knew they were coming to court to have these defense attorneys put them on the stand, to embarrass them,” she said.
The prosecutor later went on to review for jurors parts of their instructions and the standards that need to be met for a conviction.
“The truth is that, as you sit here, we know the despicable behavior the defendant engaged in. He thought he was so powerful that people would … excuse his behavior. That’s just Harvey being Harvey. That’s just Hollywood. And for so long that’s what everyone did. Everyone just turned their heads,” she said.
“It is time for the defendant’s reign of terror to end and it is time for the kingmaker to be brought to justice,” Martinez added.
During a 2020 trial in New York, Weinstein was convicted of a criminal sex act and third-degree rape and is currently serving a 23-year sentence for those crimes.
Should the Los Angeles jury — comprised of four women and eight men — find him guilty as charged, Weinstein would face 60 years to life in prison, plus an additional five years.
Midway through the trial, four of the original 11 charges against Weinstein tied to a fifth Jane Doe were dropped without explanation.
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