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Harvey Weinstein’s Defense Lawyer Urges Jury to Acquit: ‘Regret Is Not the Same as Rape’

Harvey Weinstein testicles
Etienne Laurent-Pool/Getty Images

Harvey Weinstein’s defense urged a jury on Thursday to acquit the former Hollywood titan of rape and sexual assault, arguing that all four accusers were untruthful.

Alan Jackson, one of Weinstein’s attorneys, argued that two of the women were simply “making it up,” and that the other two engaged in “transactional sex” because they wanted Weinstein to help their careers.

Jackson argued that the women have recast themselves as victims because they want to be part of a “popular movement.” But he urged the jury to focus on what the women said — or didn’t say — at the time of the alleged assaults.

“Regret is not the same as rape,” Jackson argued.

Jackson went through each of the accusers in turn. He paid particular attention to Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has been identified in court as Jane Doe #4. He argued that Siebel Newsom’s testimony was a “theatrical, overly dramatized performance.” She testified that Weinstein raped her in 2005, during what she thought was supposed to be a business meeting.

“What you saw was an act,” he said. “It had no basis in truth.”

He argued the Siebel Newsom had “consensual, transactional sex” with Weinstein. But that truth, he argued, is at odds with her self-image as a “successful, educated, well-bred, refined woman.”

“She hates it,” he argued. “She is willing to lie in order to purge herself of her own choices.”

Jackson also displayed dozens of emails that Siebel Newsom had sent to Weinstein after the alleged assault, in many of which she asked for campaign contributions for her husband.

Jackson also argued that Jane Doe #3 engaged in consensual sex acts because she wanted to pursue a book deal about “Naked Massage.” Jane Doe #3 testified that Weinstein trapped her in a bathroom after she gave him a massage and grabbed her breast while he masturbated.

“Fame and fortune attracts fame and fortune seekers,” Jackson said. “He benefitted, and she benefitted. That’s the meaning of a transactional relationship. They played the game. They hate it now, unequivocally. And that hate translated into their testimony.”

Jackson also argued that Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 had simply fabricated their allegations. Jane Doe #1 testified that Weinstein raped her at a hotel room in February 2013, when she came to Los Angeles for the L.A. Italia Film Festival. Jackson alleged that she was actually in the hotel room of Pascal Vicedomini, the festival organizer, with whom, Jackson claimed, she was having a sexual relationship. He noted that a fire alarm went off in Jane Doe #1’s hotel on the night of the alleged rape, but she never made any mention of it.

Jackson also argued that none of the allegations have been corroborated, and that the prosecution’s case boils down to “take our word for it.” He also urged the jury to disregard the emotions displayed in some of the testimony, saying that the women are effectively saying “believe us because we cried.”

“Fury does not make fact,” Jackson said. “Tears do not make truth.”

Jackson concluded his argument late on Thursday afternoon. The prosecution will have one more chance to address the jury on Friday before deliberations begin.

Weinstein is facing seven charges and a maximum sentence of 60 years. He is already serving a 23-year sentence for his conviction in New York, which is on appeal.

Weinstein faces two rape charges and five sexual assault charges in this trial. The prosecution called eight women in total, but the case rests on half of them — only four are charges witnesses, and the others are “prior bad acts” witnesses who the judge allowed to take the stand to establish a pattern of Weinstein’s alleged behavior.