Jury begins deliberating in Harvey Weinstein rape trial

Jurors in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial have started deliberating on charges in the landmark MeToo case that could put the once-powerful Hollywood mogul behind bars for the rest of his life.

The panel of seven men and five women received instructions in the law from the judge before beginning to weigh charges that the film producer raped a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performed oral sex on another woman, TV and film production assistant Mimi Haleyi, in 2006.

Weinstein denies the charges.

Mimi Haleyi, right, is one of Harvey Weinstein's accusers. Credit: AP

Jurors will also weigh actress Annabella Sciorra’s allegation of a mid-1990s rape in considering charges claiming Weinstein is a sexual predator, even though the allegation is too old to be charged on its own due to the statute of limitations.

Other accusers gave evidence as part of the prosecution’s effort to show he used the same tactics to victimise many women over the years.

A torrent of allegations against Weinstein in October 2017 spawned the MeToo movement.

His trial is seen as a landmark moment for the cause, but Judge James Burke has cautioned jurors that it is "not a referendum on the MeToo movement".

Annabella Sciorra gave evidence in court against Harvey Weinstein. Credit: AP

In her closing argument on Friday, Assistant district attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said Weinstein treated the women who accused him like "complete disposables" and made them feel ashamed even though he was the one who was at fault.

"What he wants to do is he wants to get them in a situation where they feel stupid.

"If you feel stupid and belittled, belittled, stupid people do not complain," the prosecutor told jurors.

But defence lawyer Donna Rotunno said in her closing argument last week that prosecutors had "created a universe that strips adult women of common sense, autonomy and responsibility".

Ms Haleyi, a former Project Runway production assistant, told the trial that Weinstein pushed her on to a bed and sexually assaulted her, undeterred by her kicks and pleas of: "No, please don’t do this, I don’t want it."

The woman who says Weinstein raped her in 2013 sobbed in court as she described how she sent him flattering emails and kept seeing him after the alleged rape because "I wanted him to believe I wasn’t a threat".