The New York Times podcast “The Daily” aired the piece about attorney Donna Rotunno Friday morning, and drew criticism because she claimed she had never been sexually assaulted because “I would never put myself in that position.”
The lawyer also discussed Weinstein’s criminal case and his accusers — but stopped short of using their names.
After Weinstein’s rape trial broke for the day, Assistant DA Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told Justice James Burke that Rotunno is “calling our witnesses liars and celebrity victim-hood status, and it is completely in contradiction to your order.”
Rotunno insisted that the interview was taped a long time ago. “[I] have not spoken to anyone since we started this case,” she said. She added that she didn’t even know the piece was airing Friday. “I had no idea,” she said.
The judge did not address the prosecutor’s concerns on the record. Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha appeared to contradict Rotunno’s account. “The interview was taped January 28 and aired on Feb. 7. Donna Rotunno was made aware of the air date,” Ha wrote in an email.
When reached for comment, Rotunno said, “The days are bleeding together. There was absolutely no intention to make any misrepresentation whatsoever.”
The day before the trial started Jan. 7, the judge ordered Rotunno not to discuss the victims in the case in any way after a complaint from the prosecution. “Leave the witnesses alone,” Burke said. “Don’t talk about them in any capacity. Just excise the witnesses from your communications going forward.”
In “The Daily” podcast, Rotunno spoke directly about complainants in Weinstein’s case. “These are consensual encounters,” she told Times reporter Megan Twohey. “I believe the actions of the women after the fact prove that they were consensual encounters.”
In a clear reference to accuser Jessica Mann, Rotunno said she had given Weinstein her new phone number after she alleged he raped her.
Twohey asked Rotunno what reason these women would have to lie. “We have created a society of celebrity victim-hood status,” the attorney responded. “We have created a society where women don’t have to take responsibility for their actions.”
The Times reporter — along with her colleague Jodi Kantor — exposed the allegations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein in a bombshell 2017 story that helped lead to the criminal charges against him.
Weinstein’s rape trial resumes Monday.