Updated: February 1, 2023
- New York Times reporter Megan Twohey interviewed Harvey Weinstein’s defense attorney Donna Rotunno for Friday’s episode of The Daily.
- In the interview, Rotunno shared her views on vulnerability, safety and defendants’ rights to a fair trial.
- About 24 minutes in, she’s asked whether she’s ever been a victim of sexual assault and responds she hasn’t “because I would never put myself in that position.”
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She told the reporter what she had for breakfast — nothing — and then went on to share her thoughts on the #MeToo movement and how it tends to compromise defendants’ right to due process.
About 24 minutes into the interview, though, it took a turn.
Twohey was about to end her interview, asked her colleagues if they had anything they wanted to ask, and then remembered one last query: if Rotunno herself had ever been sexually assaulted.
“I have not,” she said, pausing for a few palpable seconds, “because I would never put myself in that position.”
—megan twohey (@mega2e) February 7, 2020
When pushed, she continued.
“I’ve always made choices, from college-age on, I never drank too much. I never went home with someone who I didn’t know,” Rotunno said. “I just never put myself in a vulnerable circumstance, ever.”
Of course, Twohey followed up, and asked if Rotunno thinks that everyone who has ever been sexually assaulted has put themselves in a position for it to happen.
“Absolutely not,” she said. “But just as we make smart decisions when you walk out on the street at night, I think you have to make the same decisions when you’re putting yourself in circumstances with other people.”
Twohey, who is one of the reporters who broke the Weinstein scandal and wrote the related book “She Said,” told Rotunno that she felt like she was insinuating that the burden should rest on the victims and not the perpetrators.
“We can’t have it both ways,” Rotunno said. “We can’t have things like Tinder, where you swipe right and go meet whoever you meet, and most of the time those things are sexual interactions, and then say, you know, I went out with them and I went to their house and we were flirting and kissing and say ‘I had no idea that he was going to do this.”
“I think women need to be very clear about their intentions. I think women need to be very prepared for the circumstances they put themselves in and I think absolutely women should take on equal risk that men are taking on.”
Then Twohey asked if the attorney thought men needed to do anything differently.
“Sure, I think men also need to be very clear about their intentions,” she said. “And if I was a man in today’s world, before I was engaging in sexual behavior with any woman today, I would ask for then to sign a consent form.”
“You’re being serious?” Twoey said, with a tone of disbelief.
“I’m being dead serious,” Rotunno responded. “Why not? Why not? Take all of the question out of it. Make it easier for everyone.”
The prosecution in the New York Harvey Weinstein trial has rested their case. He is charged with five felony counts of rape and sexual assault.
The trial is moving faster than anticipated and a verdict could come as early as mid-February.
Rotunno recently told Insider’s Michelle Mark that she’d try to convince jury that they don’t have to like Weinstein, but they can still find him not guilty. The two concepts aren’t mutually exclusive.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit their website to receive confidential support.
- Read more:
- ‘His eyes were black’: Actress Annabella Sciorra testified that Harvey Weinstein grew ‘menacing’ when she confronted him after he raped her
- Prosecutors say Harvey Weinstein put women through a series of ‘tests’ to see how easily they could be manipulated
- The judge in the Harvey Weinstein case told potential jurors it’s ‘not a referendum on the #MeToo movement’
- How Harvey Weinstein became one of the most powerful figures in Democratic politics before his career was rocked by a sexual harassment scandal