Now that his trial is underway, Harvey Weinstein has spent the last two days attacking the integrity of the women who accuse him of sexual assault.
Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice James Burke allowed Weinstein to question a legal expert about what constitutes prosecutable crimes after the defense raised the possibility of prosecutorial misconduct. The judge also has allowed Weinstein to ask anyone and everyone that he encounters about the accusations against him and show them the text of accusers' accusations.
After Weinstein walked out of court Tuesday, his attorney Benjamin Brafman told reporters that the defendants in these types of cases "should absolutely have to have equal protection."
Prosecutors did not object to a defense argument that the accusations were false, and in fact objected to it, too. They said they would have agreed to a questionnaire or documentary evidence, but not an open-ended question asking anyone what they might have seen, heard or suspected, as Brafman suggested.
His defense isn't based on addressing the accusers' credibility, he said, but on showing that "they're pursuing money through the criminal-justice system."
When the trial started, Weinstein said he would focus on proving that there wasn't criminal intent on his part, not that he didn't do anything wrong.
In open court Tuesday, Harvey Weinstein described the accusers as "wilfully untrue" and made an impassioned plea for the jury to "look at all of the evidence together."
"The movie industry that they spoke about is the same industry they wanted to come out and say that what they said happened wasn't true. We want people to look at the evidence, to get to the truth," Weinstein said to the jury.
Weinstein wanted to know which police statements described Weinstein in a criminalistic way. Brafman argued that police incorrectly identified many of the accusers as victims of sexual assault even though in reality they couldn't have been, because in many cases they changed their stories about what happened.
"You have in two days, you spent less time with the false rape allegation, more time with the witness that I played throughout this trial, and less time with the witnesses that went through with their stories," Brafman said.
"They lie repeatedly," Brafman said of accusers. "But if you convict based on what's wrong with them, you're mistaken. ... They can't be held to the same standard that you must hold me to. You're not going to hold me to the same standard because there's something about them that's wrong."
The situation is complicated by the fact that six of the eight women said that Weinstein assaulted them without force or a threat of force while the two other women alleged that he assaulted them with force after threatening to kill them.
Brafman argued Tuesday that "it was a matter of time" before all of the accusers gave false or incomplete accounts.
"Some are acting with the idea that we could get $50 million from his bankruptcy estate, and then some of them come forward and they change stories," Brafman said. "There's a continuum of dishonesty in the criminal-justice system."