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Harvey Weinstein gets into a vehicle as he leaves the courthouse following the second day of his rape trial, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s the defense’s go-to question at Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial: If the once-revered Hollywood mogul is a revolting sexual predator, as prosecutors and scores of women allege, why did some of his accusers keep interacting with him for years after their alleged assaults?

Prosecutors hope to give jurors some answers and neutralize that line of questioning before too long with the help of Dr. Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist who testified about the same issues at the 2018 retrial that ended in Bill Cosby’s conviction on charges he drugged and molested a woman years earlier.

In her opening statement earlier this week, prosecutor Meghan Hast told jurors the expert witness set to testify Friday will dispel “myths” about how victims behave during and after rapes and sexual assaults.

In evaluating hundreds of victims, Ziv has found most victims “are assaulted by someone they know, don’t physically resist or try to fight off their attacker, don’t immediately report the assault and reach back out to their attacker,” Hast said.

But Weinstein lawyer Damon Cheronis cautioned jurors in his opening that Ziv hasn’t actually examined any of Weinstein’s accusers. Cheronis zeroed in on a message from one telling Weinstein that she loved him and wanted him to meet her mother.

“Ladies and gentlemen, that’s not how you talk to your predator,” Cheronis said.

Ziv is expected to be the prosecution’s third witness at the New York City trial of the once-powerful mogul whose downfall catalyzed the #MeToo movement.

Weinstein, 67, is charged with forcibly performing oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in his New York apartment in 2006 and raping an aspiring actress in a New York hotel room in 2013.

The producer behind such Oscar-winning movies as “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love” has insisted any sexual encounters were consensual.

Thursday’s court session was consumed by actress Annabella Sciorra’s testimony that Weinstein overpowered and raped her when he showed up at the door of her Manhattan apartment in 1993 or 1994.

Keeping with strategy, Weinstein’s lawyers seized on her actions after the alleged assault. On cross-examination, for example, defense attorney Donna Rotunno questioned Sciorra’s decision to make the 1997 Weinstein-produced film “Copland,” considering their history.

Sciorra, now 59, claimed she wasn’t aware of Weinstein’s involvement until she agreed to appear in the film, in part because neither his name nor that of his movie studio appeared on the script she used to audition.

Rotunno, known as a #MeToo skeptic, also challenged Sciorra’s testimony that she was dismayed to find out she was booked in a hotel room right next to Weinstein’s on a trip to the Cannes Film Festival to promote “Copland.”

Sciorra told the jury of seven men and five women that she got another jolt when she opened her hotel room door early one morning to find Weinstein standing there in his underwear holding a bottle of oil in one hand and a video in the other.

“You already know Harvey Weinstein is in the room next door to you, correct?” said an incredulous Rotunno. “You already know that the last time you heard a knock at the door and answered it without seeing who was on the other end didn’t go well, correct?”

Sciorra’s allegations are outside the statute of limitations for criminal charges on their own, but her testimony could be a factor as prosecutors look to show that Weinstein has engaged in a pattern of predatory behavior.

Prosecutors plan to call three other accusers as witnesses for the same purpose during the monthlong trial.

With Sciorra’s testimony fresh in their memories, jurors could soon hear from actress Rosie Perez, one of two friends she said she told about the alleged rape long before she went public with the allegations in an October 2017 article in The New Yorker.

Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon previewed Perez’s testimony in court after the jury went home for the day, aiming to persuade Judge James Burke to allow her to take the witness stand as what’s known as a “prompt outcry” witness.

Such witnesses are allowed to corroborate an accuser’s claim that they reported a sex crime to someone else soon after it happened. Weinstein’s lawyers are objecting, saying her testimony won’t meet that standard. Burke has yet to rule.

According to Illuzzi, Perez would tell jurors that she spoke to Sciorra one night after the alleged rape and that Sciorra told her, in effect: “I think something bad happened to me. I believe I was raped.”

Iluzzi said Perez will testify she heard more about the assault from other people while Sciorra was out of the country for a film obligation and that they then had another conversation. Sciorra testified Thursday that, at the time, she was having run-ins with Weinstein banging on her hotel room door. Illuzzi said Perez will testify that Sciorra told her, in effect: “I don’t want him to get me again.”

Through these conversations, Perez surmised that Weinstein was the person Sciorra was talking about, Illuzzi said, and in effect said: “Oh my God, Harvey Weinstein was the person who raped you, isn’t that right?”

“Sciorra was very upset,” Illuzzi said, summarizing the conversation. “She says: ‘My God, I don’t even remember telling you, but yes, he was the one and he did this to me.’”

Spc. Brian K. Hollenbeck, convicted of sexually assaulting his sleeping mother-in-law three years ago, is being tried again after an Army appeals court overturned the conviction.


VICENZA, Italy — A soldier convicted of sexually assaulting his sleeping mother-in-law three years ago is being tried again after an Army court tossed the conviction because of a possibly biased juror.

Spc. Brian K. Hollenbeck new court-martial is scheduled to begin Tuesday. He was convicted in 2017 after his mother-in-law testified she’d awakened during a visit to her daughter and son-in-law to find evidence of sexual activity and Hollenbeck standing off to her side, court documents stated.

Hollenbeck, assigned to U.S. Army Africa and winner of the “Best Warrior” competition for the command in 2014, was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge and 3 1/2 years in prison.

But in June, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals set aside the verdict.

The court decided that questions a major on the jury had for a witness indicated the major had made up her mind to find Hollenbeck guilty before the case was completed.

“Do sexual predators look normal?” the major wanted to ask a forensic psychiatrist. “How common is it for a sexual predator to choose a family member as their victims?”

Jurors are instructed to keep an open mind until a case is complete and they begin deliberations.

Court-martial juries, unlike those in most state courts, are allowed to submit written questions during trial. Judges and lawyers preview the questions and determine whether they’re allowable.

The major’s questions were deemed inappropriate and were not asked. But the judge did not, as the defense requested, inquire further into the major’s state of mind or remove her from the jury.

That was a mistake, the Army appellate court found.

“We cannot over-emphasize the importance to both judges and military justice practitioners of proactively identifying and addressing potential issues of panel member bias in a comprehensive fashion,” the court said in its opinion.

The Army court primarily cited a 2012 appellate ruling to support its decision.

That case involved Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy J. Nash, convicted in 2009 of long-term sexual abuse of three children and possessing child pornography. A gunnery sergeant on the jury submitted a question to ask if a witness believed “a pedophile can be rehabilitated?”

That question showed the gunnery sergeant was biased, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled, and the judge should have removed him from the jury. Nash’s conviction and 18-year prison sentence were overturned.

At Hollenbeck’s 2017 trial, DNA testing revealed his semen on a pillowcase his mother-in-law gave to law enforcement.

But her daughter told the jury that she and Hollenbeck had sex on the pillow before her mother’s arrival and that she had not washed the pillowcase.

Hollenbeck’s defense argued that his mother-in-law’s medications caused her to hallucinate a sexual assault that did not occur.

 A woman has told a court martial how she was left in 'total shock' after Sgt James Grundy allegedly grabbed her chest and groin at a party

A woman has told a court martial how she was left in ‘total shock’ after Sgt James Grundy allegedly grabbed her chest and groin at a partyCredit: Solent News

He had to be dragged away from the party at Gibraltar Barracks, Camberley, Surrey, the court martial heard.

His alleged victim was at the party on April 4 last year to congratulate him, Bulford military court, Wilts, was told.

She said in court: “Things happened in slow motion. I was in total shock.”

Sgt Grundy denies any wrongdoing and sexual assault.

The trial continues.

Image result for airman alexander driskill

According to US Air Force 31st Fighter Wing spokeswoman Maj. Sarah Babcock, Alexander L. Driskill was recently sentenced to 40 years in prison by a military jury for assaulting a child under the age of 12 multiple times during a 17-month-period, Stars & Stripes reported. 

Driskill was accused of sexual assault last year after it was revealed that he and his victim had the same sexually transmitted disease. A therapist also confirmed that the child had been sexually abused, according to Stars & Stripes.

​Driskill had already pleaded guilty to possessing and viewing pornographic material of underage girls before he was found guilty by a military jury. In addition, Driskill, who was an aircrew flight equipment technician that was assigned to the 31st Operations Support Squadron, 31st Fighter Wing, was dishonorably discharged and reduced in rank during a seven-day court martial that took place in Colorado in November. Driskill’s case is currently being handled at the Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado.

When his trial opens in the coming days, Harvey Weinstein’s defense team is expected to go on the offensive against the women who have accused him of rape and sexual assault, in part by questioning if they acted like victims afterward.

New York City prosecutors intend to counter with a strategy that’s taken hold since the 2018 retrial of comedian Bill Cosby: calling a sex crimes expert as a witness to dispel assumptions about how rape and sexual assault victims behave after an attack.

In fact, Weinstein’s prosecutors are using the very same expert, Dr. Barbara Ziv. She was the first prosecution witness at Cosby’s retrial and is expected to testify early in Weinstein’s trial this month.

Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist who has spent decades working with sex offenders and victims, is likely to be an important potential bulwark against Weinstein’s defense that he had consensual relationships with the two women at the center of the case.

One of the women, who accuses Weinstein of raping her in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013, sent him warm emails in the months after the alleged assault.

“Miss you big guy,” said one note.

“There is no one else I would enjoy catching up with that understands me quite like you,” said another.

There was similar evidence at Cosby’s trial that he had remained in contact with some of his victims. Ziv testified that victims frequently avoid or delay reporting assaults to police, often keep in contact with the perpetrator, remember more details over time and differ in their emotional responses.

Cosby’s jury ultimately returned a guilty verdict in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.

Prosecutors are now rethinking how they try sexual assault cases, especially those involving intimate partners, mentors, work friends and other potentially fraught relationships.

Through experts like Ziv, they can immediately focus the jury’s attention on victim behavior and frame the way jurors hear later testimony. That approach can help prosecutors bust myths and preemptively weaken defense strategies.

“I think that makes sense. It’s basically a quick education for the jury, and it’s true the jury starts to see things through that lens,” said Laurie Levenson, a criminal law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

In addition to the alleged rape, Weinstein, 67, is charged with sexually assaulting another woman, Mimi Haleyi, in 2006. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Opening statements are expected as soon as this week, following two weeks of jury selection.

Weinstein’s lead lawyer, former Chicago prosecutor Donna Rotunno, said in a pretrial interview with Vanity Fair that while some women might have regretted having sex with the former producer, “regret sex is not rape.”

She said the email correspondence between Weinstein and both women is evidence that, at the time, neither considered what happened to be a crime.

“I think a woman who is a victim of rape is going to look at that and say, ‘That’s not what rape victims do.’ If you were really raped, this is not what you do,” she said.

Defense attorney Kathleen Bliss took similar aim at Cosby’s accusers in scorching closing arguments in April 2018.

She called trial accuser Andrea Constand “a con artist” and witness Janice Dickerson, one of five other accusers to testify for the prosecution, “a failed starlet” and “aged-out model” who had seemingly “slept with every man on the planet.”

Given the cultural moment, some defense lawyers question that strategy. The goal, they say, should be to discredit accusers without eviscerating them. Eviscerating them could turn off a jury.

In Weinstein’s case, the task is all the more daunting. News reports about his alleged predation of scores of women — from high-profile actresses to production assistants — launched the #MeToo movement in late 2017.

“Of course, a lawyer has to go in there and attack credibility and attack inconsistencies. It’s just how you do it,” said defense lawyer Brian McMonagle, who won a mistrial in the first Cosby trial when the jury deadlocked. “There’s a way to do it without being despicable.”

Traditionally, prosecutors call trial experts toward the end of their case to try to repair any damage done to their witnesses. But in sex assault cases, that may be tough to do once jurors form opinions.

“One of the big differences (at the Cosby retrial) was using the victim expert early in the trial. I think that served to help educate the jury on rape myths and victim behavior,” said Kevin Steele, the suburban Philadelphia district attorney who oversaw both Cosby prosecutions.

The practice isn’t limited to the courtroom.

Experts and victims are also working with police to help them understand victim behavior. They can have the same misconceptions as juries, said former prosecutor Kristen Feden, who gave closing arguments in Cosby’s retrial and now represents sex assault victims in private practice. The police training, she said, “certainly changes the way they investigate.”

Constand, who lives in Toronto, is doing training sessions with law enforcement groups there. She first went to police about Cosby in 2005, a year after the encounter — only to be rebuffed by Steele’s predecessor, who declined to press charges in part because she’d stayed in contact with Cosby and didn’t immediately tell law enforcement.

“I can’t tell them how to prosecute these cases, but I can tell them about the internal experiences, and barriers to reporting,” Constand said in a recent interview.

Cosby, 82, who like Weinstein had scores of accusers, is now serving three to 10 years in prison for drugging and molesting Constand. He’d been a friend and mentor to Constand at Temple University, where she worked for the women’s basketball team and he, a beloved alumnus and campus icon, served on the Board of Trustees.

Rotunno, in Vanity Fair, said the #MeToo movement had gone too far.

“Women may rue the day that all of this started when no one asks them out on a date, and no one holds the door open for them, and no one tells them that they look nice,” she said.

In Levenson’s view, defense lawyers need to focus on the facts to win #MeToo cases.

“If you’re going to attack the witnesses, you better have very good ammunition. You better not be going on stereotypes or assumptions,” she said. “It has to be very specific information that undercuts their credibility. The general smear campaign, I don’t think works anymore.”