An attorney for Harvey Weinstein lamented that “his whole life has been ruined” and defended the accused serial sexual abuser and disgraced movie mogul against the more than 70 women — including former employees and Hollywood stars — who have accused him of sexual assault by blaming them instead.
“No matter what happens to Harvey Weinstein, he will pay the biggest price there is. Even if he wins, Gayle, his whole life has been ruined, toppled, damaged,” Donna Rotunno told “CBS This Morning” host Gayle King in an interview that aired Tuesday. “And whether it’s by his own doing or others, that’s the fact. And the fact is that no matter what we do ― and we can walk out of that courtroom with a ‘not guilty’ and walk him out onto those courtroom steps, and he never gets to be Harvey Weinstein ever again.”
Rotunno is defending Weinstein in a pending criminal case against him, involving two of the scores of women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, with allegations stretching over several decades. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and is awaiting a trial scheduled for early next year.
She also went on to attack the credibility of the accusers, suggesting that they had it coming and that the alleged abuse was just a matter of interpretation.
“Anytime we talk about men and women in sexual circumstances, I think we have to look at the fact that there’s always an area of gray,” Rotunno said. “So there’s these blurred lines, and then sometimes, one side walks away from an event feeling different than the other.”
When King pointed out that in many cases of sexual abuse, survivors can’t simply leave their abusers, Rotunno claimed they “had a choice.”
“That’s a choice. And if a woman makes that choice, she makes that choice. But then I think years later to come forward and then say ― and who knows years later if your memory is exactly the way something happened at the time that you’re claiming that it did?” she said. “I get frustrated when I listen to these types of situations, and I hear women say, ‘Well, I didn’t have a choice.’ Well, no, you had a choice and you made a choice.”
Yet, when King asked if “you’re making it harder for women who have been sexually harassed, assaulted, raped to come forward,” Rotunno said she believes “I’m making it easier for them.”
“If they really are in a position that they feel uncomfortable, then the first thing they should do is report it,” she said. “They should go to the police, and I think that that sort of weeding out the cases that don’t rise to the level of real assaults should help real victims. So no, I think I’m helping them, actually.”
Rotunno also took issue with the Me Too movement at large, which has helped shed light on sexual abuse as a societal problem, enabled by people and institutions in power — such as Weinstein and the influential figures in his orbit. Instead, she claimed it’s unfair to accused abusers.
“What bothers me about Me Too — it allows the court of public opinion to take over the narrative,” Rotunno said. “And when you can’t come out and then either correct or challenge that narrative, it puts you in a position where you’re stripped of your rights.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.