Criminal Justice

Harvey Weinstein's lawyer thinks the #MeToo movement can be dangerous

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Harvey Weinstein 2014

Harvey Weinstein in 2014. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The lawyer representing film producer Harvey Weinstein at his rape trial has told the New York Times that she thinks the #MeToo movement has led to a rush to judgment that is destroying reputations and careers.

Donna Rotunno defends men accused of sex crimes, and she has “embraced the role of contrarian” in her criticism of #MeToo, the New York Times reports.

Even if the movement helped the feminist cause, Rotunno says, it has come at too high a price.

“If we have 500 positives that come from a movement, but the one negative is that it strips you of your right to due process and a fair trial, and the presumption of innocence, then to me, not one of those things can outweigh the one bad,” Rotunno told the New York Times. “We can’t have movements that strip us of our fundamental rights.”

“What happens with #BelieveAllWomen is that we’re just supposed to believe you without any pushback, or questioning, or cross-examination. I think that’s dangerous.”

An advocate for rape victims, Jane Manning, who’s also former New York City sex-crimes prosecutor, takes issue with Rotunno’s statements.

“Her willingness to claim that #MeToo has gone too far is attached to a steady stream of big paychecks but is not supported by the facts,” Manning told the New York Times.

Prosecutors plan to call six witnesses at the trial. One woman is expected to testify that Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013. Another is expected to testify that he forced her to have oral sex in his apartment in 2006. The other women will testify about alleged sexual assaults to show a pattern of behavior.

The case hinges on the witness accounts. According to the New York Times, Rotunno has a “prowess in cross-examination” and is “skilled at scouring evidence and exposing inconsistencies in testimony.”

She has lost only one sex-crimes case at trial.

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