Content warning: This story contains descriptions of sexual assault, and may be distressing for some readers. If you need support, please call the sexual assault helpline on 1800 010 120.
Harvey Weinstein’s lead defence lawyer, Donna Rotunno, 44, has spoken to 60 Minutes about her controversial client and his alleged victims.
Rotunno has made a career for herself defending men who have been accused of sexual misconduct. Her latest client, Harvey Weinstein, has been accused by over 80 women of sexual abuse and is currently facing court in New York for six charges relating to two of those women.
Weinstein denies all allegations.
Despite the number of women that have spoken out against Weinstein, Rotunno says, “Women lie. It’s not unusual for women to lie.
“Women are attracted to powerful men. Women are attracted to older powerful men. Women don’t care what they look like. They don’t care how big they are. They’re attracted to the lifestyle and the benefit of the lifestyle.”
Rotunno told 60 Minutes’ Tom Steinfort that women were throwing themselves at Weinstein, and when asked why so many women would lie and accuse Harvey of sex crimes, she said, “I think there’s a couple of reasons. I think one, there’s definitely a financial and a monetary gain that’s possible. I also think the motivation is not wanting to be the person who says, ‘I had consensual behaviour with Harvey Weinstein’.
“I think that once people started coming out, women who by any other account, if you look at the evidence, engaged in consensual behaviour, now say, ‘I don’t want to be that person’.”
When asked if women should be able to take risks without being raped, she says “of course”, then follows it up with: “But at the same time, to then say, ‘I swipe right on Tinder and then I go home with somebody and not think that they then may try to proposition me.'”
To which Steinfort replied, “that almost sounds like you’re saying when you go home, you’re asking for it.”
“That’s not at all what I’m saying,” Rotunno retorted. “What I’m saying is when you go home with someone after swiping right, to act as if you have no idea what that interaction may be or what you may be consenting to, seems ridiculous to me. “
Rotunno believes Weinstein committed “sins” (akin to “treating people badly at work”), but says sins don’t make you a criminal.