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Weinstein defense calls its first witnesses

WEINSTEIN TRIAL (ADDS VIDEO) | 06 de febrero de 2020

New York, Feb 6 (efe-epa).- The defense team of former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who is on trial in New York for rape, on Thursday called its first witness, a Miramax employee and friend of the accused who maintained a "close friendship" with actress Annabella Sciorra, in its attempt to defuse the testimony of the women who have accused him.

After the last of the six women who testified against Weinstein and claimed that they were harassed or raped by him were done providing their testimony, it was the turn of Paul Feldsher to take the stand, a former Miramax film production company worker, who was friendly with Sciorra in the early 1990s, when she said she was raped (that is, in the winter of 1993-1994).

When asked by defense attorney Donna Rotunno about whether at that time Sciorra - famous for her role in "The Sopranos" - had mentioned what had occurred with the producer, Feldsher said only that on one occasion during a "long walk" the actress had told him that "she'd done this crazy thing with Harvey."

Feldsher said he did not recall that Sciorra was upset or distressed in any way when she said that and did not remember whether she gave him any additional details about what had occurred between her and Weinstein.

He also said under questioning that he believed Weinstein had a "sex addiction" but did not think Weinstein was "capable of the things that he'd been charged with."

Weinstein is facing five counts, including rape, criminal sexual act and predatory sexual assault, and if convicted he could be sentenced to life in prison.

The charges against him are founded on testimony from Miriam Haley that Weinstein forced oral sex on her in 2006 and Jessica Mann's testimony that he raped her twice during a relationship that they pursued together.

Feldsher said that Weinstein has a "voracious" appetite for women, and he admitted that in 2017 - at about the time the investigation of Weinstein became public - he spoke with the producer because he "felt badly" for him and "I was speaking to him partially because nobody else was."

He admitted insulting Sciorra when he spoke with Weinstein but said in court that he only did so to respond to what the producer "wanted to hear" and when the prosecuting attorney suggested that he was now simply saying things that the accused wanted to hear, Feldsher replied "Categorically no."

Sciorra testified on Jan. 23 that the movie producer raped her at her home, and her testimony is considered key to showing that Weinstein acted according to the pattern of a sexual predator.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who is defending three of the women who have testified against Weinstein, said upon leaving the courtroom that her clients, and specifically Sciorra, had testified in a way that she hopes will have a "positive impact" on the jury.

She also said that the prosecution would never have charged Weinstein if they did not think they had a reasonable chance to prove his guilt, although she added that the decision is in the hands of the jury and nobody knows what they will decide.

Allred also said that the only job of the defense attorneys is to seek to undermine the credibility of the prosecution's witnesses and to raise doubts so as to persuade the jury that there is sufficient doubt to allow them to acquit him.

Although six women have testified that Weinstein had attacked them or engaged in unwanted sexual advances, Weinstein's defense team has argued that all the sexual encounters were consensual, pointing to friendly e-mails that some of the women sent to him after the alleged attacks.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Barbara Ziv, meanwhile, testified for the prosecution that one of the prevailing "rape myth(s)" is that victims of sexual violence all behave in a certain way, adding in response to questioning that some victims continue to interact with their abusers even after being attacked.

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