Harvey Weinstein's newest lawyers say he was 'railroaded' by #MeToo movement

Brunilde Fioravanti
Luglio 14, 2019

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein switched his legal team during an appearance Thursday in a Manhattan courtroom regarding his sexual assault case.

In a previous interview, Ms Rotunno said she was "not a woman who has ever subscribed" to the MeToo movement, addng: "I believe women are responsible for the choices that they make".

In her own post-hearing press conference, Gloria Allred, who represents two of Weinstein's accusers in their civil cases, scoffed at Rotunno using her gender as a leg up.

"Movements allow emotions to take over and they're devoid of facts and evidence", she said.

Having originally retained leading NY attorney Benjamin Brafman, who battled unsuccessfully to get the case dismissed, Weinstein then switched out his team earlier this year and brought in Baez and also Ronald Sullivan, a Harvard law professor, who withdrew in May after protests on campus. He told a judge in a letter last month that Weinstein made representing him "unreasonably hard".

Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis, both from Chicago, are taking on a client whose alleged sexual assaults sparked the #MeToo movement.

Lawyers representing the women accusing Weinstein pointed out that disgraced entertainer Bill Cosby had also hired a high-powered woman lawyer to plead his case, but he ended up in jail.

She added that she and Cheronis are "honored to represent Mr Weinstein".

Rose said in response to the news that she believes her case didn't go to trial because the lawyers involved had been paid to ignore it.

After approving Baez's request to withdraw from the case, Burke called him to the bench for a one-on-one chat that lasted about five minutes with no court reporter to transcribe the conversation.

Sullivan wrote about the backlash to his representation of Weinstein in a June 24 op-ed in The New York Times, noting that during the 10 years he served as a faculty dean he has represented both sexual assault defendants and accusers in criminal court and student victims in campus Title IX proceedings. He asked whether he could also approach the bench, but Burke waved him off. Again there was no court reporter to make a record of the conversation.

One lawyer bolted in May amid public backlash and another now says he and Weinstein just couldn't get along.

Judge James Burke held the hearing Thursday to approve changes in Weinstein's defense team and to iron out remaining issues before the September 9 trial.

Weinstein, 67, is charged with raping a woman in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006. That happened after his original lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, lost a hard-fought bid to get the case thrown out.

Harvard law professor Ronald Sullivan left in May. This will be Cheronis and Rotunno's first time leading a court case in New York City.

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