Harvey Weinstein Lawyer Faults D.A.s Use of Rape Trauma Syndrome Expert
Harvey Weinstein’s attorney argued Tuesday that his Los Angeles case should be thrown out because the prosecution improperly relied on an expert on “rape trauma syndrome” during grand jury proceedings.
Defense attorney Mark Werksman argued that psychologist Mindy Mechanic should not have been allowed to testify to rebut “rape myths” that had not been raised by the defense.
But Judge Lisa Lench rejected a defense motion to dismiss the charges.
“I think there was not a manipulation of the grand jury in this case,” Lench said. “I don’t think the testimony of Dr. Mechanic was inappropriate. Certain rape myths are common knowledge and are permitted to be rebutted.”
Weinstein is facing 11 counts of rape and sexual assault, which involve five women whose claims date from 2004 to 2013. A trial is not expected to occur before next summer.
Much of the detail about the case has been kept under seal, but Werksman previewed some of his trial arguments at Tuesday’s hearing.
He said that one woman had given inconsistent statements to the police, and that another had faked an orgasm during the alleged assault — raising a question as to whether Weinstein knew she did not consent.
Werksman said that another victim had entered into a transactional arrangement, following the alleged assault, in which she got access to movie premieres in exchange for allowing Weinstein to masturbate during massages.
The attorneys on both sides also made repeated references to Weinstein’s medical records and to his “ability to perform certain sexual functions.” Without providing further detail, Werksman argued that one of the accusers “failed to identify certain physical anomalies.”
Werksman argued that the prosecutors knew that the victims’ testimony was “so weak, so equivocal, so lame, so implausible,” that they brought in Mechanic to try to shore up the case.
“They had a case that was stalled on the one yard line and they needed to push the ball over the goal line, so they introduced this pseudoscientific testimony,” he argued.
One of the accusers purportedly had some kickboxing training, and so Mechanic was asked to explain to the grand jurors why she might not fight back against a sexual assault, Werksman said.
Paul Thompson, the lead prosecutor, argued that Mechanic’s testimony was entirely appropriate.
“We did rebut the rape myths that were raised by the defense,” he argued.
A hearing was set for May 4 on the prosecution’s motion to call “prior bad acts” witnesses to testify. Weinstein waived his speedy trial rights, extending the deadline to hold the trial until next September.
Weinstein has been held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility since his extradition last July. At his first trial in New York in 2020, Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault and sentenced to 23 years in prison.
Outside court, Werksman said that Weinstein continues to struggle with his health, but made no other comment.
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