Weinstein’s accusers are fame hungry, lawyer says

Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer has said that her client was made a ‘scapegoat’ by women who accused him of sexual molestation.

Speaking with ITv News, Weinstein’s lawyer, Donna Rotunno, said her client was “not a rapist” and accused the #MeToo movement of going “too far”.

“I met with Harvey, I spoke with Harvey and from day one I didn’t believe that he was a rapist,” she told the news outlet in her first UK broadcast interview.

“Harvey has the right to a defence. Harvey has the right to a fair trial. Harvey has the right to be presumed innocent,” Donna said. “I do think he’s been made a scapegoat and I think that Harvey is accused of doing things that have happened for decades and decades and decades.”

Once one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct by dozens of women, from famous actresses to assistants at his former company, that triggered the #MeToo movement.

Irobiko Chimezie

Image: Harvey Weinstein

A phrase that was originally coined in 2006 by sexual harassment survivor and activist Tarana Burke, the #MeToo hashtag took off in the wake of allegations against the film executive.

Weinstein, who recently underwent back surgery, is charged in New York with raping a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing a sex act on another woman in the city in 2006.

Los Angeles prosecutors charged Weinstein on Monday with sexually assaulting two women there on successive nights during Oscars week in 2013. The 67-year-old has said any sexual activity was consensual.

Asked if the #Metoo movement had gone to far, Ms Rotunno replied: “I do think anything that strips of your right to a fair trial puts you in a circumstance you have to say that it’s gone too far…There was almost a celebrity status that comes with making some kind of a claim against Harvey.”

She added: “I think that band of sisterhood may cloud the true events and facts.”

The New York lawyer told ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry she was confident that under cross-examination she would successfully challenge the defence’s case against her client.

Questioned on whether a woman would accuse a man of rape because they’re fame hungry, Ms Rotunno said: “I think to say that women won’t lie is not true. I think women do lie, I think women have lied and that’s the unbelievable benefit of cross examination.”