New Weinstein defense: "There's a difference between sins and crimes," you know

Sure there is — for the former you consult a priest, minister, rabbi, or imam. For the latter, you hire Donna Rotunno and pay through the nose to do whatever you can to stay out of prison.


Actually, sometimes you have to hire a Rotunno to deal with the sins too, but that’s not Rotunno’s focus at the moment. Harvey Weinstein’s new attorney has jury selection coming soon for his prosecution for sexual assault on two women. Rotunno’s focused on the criminal case against Weinstein rather than other complaints and hopes to get a jury of similar focus. If she gets that, Rotunno thinks she can get Big Harv out of the Big House:

KING: We’re focusing on your two criminal cases, but you do seem to minimize all of the other charges and allegations about Harvey Weinstein.

ROTUNNO: It’s not minimizing it. But for my purposes in this case, it’s not where I have to put my time and attention. It’s really about making sure those issues don’t cloud our ability to pick a fair jury.

KING: Well, for instance, in the Bill Cosby case, it was involving one woman, but other women who were charged who had made allegations were allowed to testify.

ROTUNNO: Correct.

KING: And that seemed to have made a decision in the verdict for the jury, certainly in the second case. Are you concerned about that?

ROTUNNO: Sure. I think there’s always a concern about those things. I think the notion of where there’s smoke, there’s fire is always something that we have to worry about.

KING: This is more than fire, though, Donna. This is an inferno when it comes to Harvey Weinstein.

ROTUNNO: Well, I think. I think that when you look at the criminal case, I don’t think that that’s the case. I’m not here to say that he was not guilty of committing sins. I’m not here to say that at all. But there’s a difference between sins and crimes and I don’t think he’s a rapist. I don’t believe he’s a rapist.


If that’s what Rotunno believes, she may have stumbled into lifetime employment. Sexual assault investigations have been underway in Los Angeles and London regarding Weinstein, and there always could be more coming. The stories told by women in his orbit often go beyond harassment, although establishing them as crimes might be difficult without witnesses or physical evidence.

That’s what Rotunno wants to emphasize with the jury. Sure, you can think Weinstein is a jerk. Perhaps these women even have cases to make against him — but civil cases, not criminal cases. Sins, not crimes.

Rotunno has a few thoughts about #MeToo and personal responsibility as well. While describing herself as an overall supporter of #MeToo, Rotunno says empowerment cuts both ways, and that women should choose not to remain engaged socially or financially to those who mistreat them. Instead, Rotunno thinks that #MeToo has at times turned into mob action rather than justice:

ROTUNNO: Yeah, it’s more of a supporter. I think in many ways, there are good things about MeToo — and I’ve said this — but what bothers me about MeToo … it allows the court of public opinion to take over the narrative. 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. …

ROTUNNO: Well, I don’t think it’s about explaining them. I think it’s, you know, 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 so there’s these blurred lines and then sometimes one side walks away from an event feeling different than the other, and how do we reconcile with that.

KING: It’s not uncommon for a woman who has been through a very difficult, traumatic experience with a man to still be engaged with that man.

ROTUNNO: And 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 … But 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.


In theory, yes. In practice, especially in Hollywood, where the Weinsteins could flex their muscle? Ask Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd how well rejection worked out for their careers. Better yet, Rotunno can ask Annabella Sciorra, who got added to the witness list to establish a pattern of sexual violence with Weinstein. That’s the Bill Cosby precedent that Rotunno fears, as she explained to Gayle King in this interview.

There are some differences between sins and crimes, but there’s a healthy amount of overlap, too. Big Harv is likely to land in that part of the Venn diagram.

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 23, 2024