NEW YORK — Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer told jurors Thursday that prosecutors in the rape case against him were acting like moviemakers, conjuring up a world ‘‘where women had no free will.”
“In the alternative universe that prosecutors have created for you, Harvey Weinstein is a monster,” lawyer Donna Rotunno said in her closing argument. But, she said, he’s an innocent man relying on jurors not to be swayed by a “sinister tale.’’
“The irony is that they are the producers and they are writing the script,” Rotunno said, urging the jury to not buy into “the story they spun where women had no free will.”
“In their universe, women are not responsible for the parties they attend, the men they flirt with, the choices they make to further their own careers, the hotel room invitations, the plane tickets they accept, the jobs they ask for help to obtain,’’ or the messages they send, Rotunno said.
Witnesses testified they were seeking a professional relationship with Weinstein, who produced many Oscar-winning movies. Rotunno dismissed that as an expedient excuse.
“If they label it what it was, we wouldn’t be here,” she told the jury of seven men and five women in a case seen as a watershed for the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct.
About the witnesses’ continued relationship with Weinstein, she told the jury: “This is where you need to say, ‘Wait a minute — do I have doubt about the story she’s telling?’ How could you not?”
“He was the target of a cause and a movement,” Rotunno said, asking jurors to ignore “outside forces’’ and weigh the facts.
“This is not a popularity contest,’’ she said.
Weinstein is charged with raping a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on a different woman, Mimi Haleyi, in 2006. Other accusers testified as part of a prosecution effort to show he used the same tactics to victimize many women over the years.
Weinstein, 67, did not testify. He has maintained any sexual encounters were consensual.
He said he “loved” Rotunno’s closing remarks as he left court Thursday.
“I made ‘The King’s Speech.’ It was the Queen’s speech,” Weinstein quipped.
The jury is scheduled to hear prosecutors’ closing argument Friday. Deliberations are expected to begin next week.
Rotunno delivered her closing argument less than a week after she came under fire on social media for telling The New York Times’ podcast “The Daily” she’d never been attacked “because I would never put myself in that position.”