Donna Rotunno: Defender of sex offenders

Taboos have been with us for millennia. But how does it feel to be taboo? In a mini-series, we tell the stories of people who do just that. Background and information on this topic can be found in the interview with taboo expert Dr. Sabine Krajewski.

Now everyone knowsr, who is Harvey Weinstein, 67: the poor victim of a bad media campaign exploited by sneaky women. "Harvey Weinstein was the guy with the key to the lock everyone wanted," says his lawyer Donna Rotunno, 44. "People used it and used it and used it." No, she cannot understand why her client, the world-famous producer, was actually sentenced to 23 years in prison in March for rape and sexual assault. Even after the New York guilty verdict, even if more than 90 women accused Weinstein of having attacked her, even if the allegations go back to 1978, she insists: "Harvey is innocent."

A bulldog in the courtroom.

Donna Rotunno once admitted that her appearances in court were carefully calculated to convey a mixture of femininity and toughness. The woman in the designer blouse and Jimmy Choo pumps is "a bulldog in the courtroom" – said another accused sex offender, for whom Rotunno was acquitted. Long before Weinstein's fall, Donna Rotunno built her career primarily on defending sex offenders. She has represented at least 40 men who have been accused of sexual abuse and boasts of having lost only one case before Weinstein. She still regrets that this client was sentenced to 16 years for raping a 15-year-old girl. She admits that it is an advantage here to be a woman. "I can ask questions that you might find coming from a male defender too tough." That is "very effective".

The Italian-American grew up in a Chicago suburb, her mother is a teacher, her father a vegetable wholesaler. She went to a Catholic school and worked briefly as a prosecutor after studying law before starting her own company at the age of 29. As far as you know, she lives alone and has no children.

Donna Rotunno says her interest in defending sex offenders began with the infamous Duke Lacrosse case, in which three players (lacrosse is a team sport related to hockey) were falsely accused of raping a black stripper. While other lawyers specialize in victim defense, she sees it as a mission to knock out the accused.

She blames them for responsibility for what happened, insulted them as liars and exploited the memory gaps of traumatized victims.

Now, of course, rapists also have a right to professional defense, but Rotunno is not only criticized for the choice of her clients, but above all for the way she attacks the witnesses in the courtroom: she blames them for what happened, berates her as a liar and exploits the memory gaps of traumatized victims to break down her credibility. If the facts can hardly be denied, she makes every effort to present the encounters as consensual and the women as calculating beasts. She thinks that the women at Weinstein acted out of fear because he could destroy careers "absolutely ridiculous". She says that these were all consensual affairs, because "real rape victims" would behave differently.

In the courtroom she fired staccato allegations at a former actress who described how Weinstein raped her in a hotel: "You manipulated Mr. Weinstein to be invited to the great parties, right? You wanted to benefit from his power, right?" After nine hours the witness broke down; the process had to be interrupted.

Women will still regret the day it all started when nobody asked them for a date, no one held the door for them anymore.

Donna Rotunno basically supports the perpetrators. "The justice system benefits 100 percent of the victims," ​​she told the New York Times, completely unaffected by the facts. "The prosecutors and police officers are afraid to show skepticism towards witnesses and accusers."

And with other sayings, it became an icon of the anti # MeToo representatives. "The pendulum swings so much in the oversensitive direction that men can no longer really be men and women can no longer really be women," she said in an interview. "Women will still regret the day it all started when nobody asked them to go on a date, nobody stopped them." As if it were about it. A reporter asked Donna Rotunno if she had ever experienced sexual violence herself. Rotunno said no. And pushed behind as a reason: "Because I would never put myself in such a position." She just never drank too much and never went into circumstances where she could be at risk.

Does she really believe all of this? "The thrill for me is to take something unpopular and convince twelve people (the jury) of my view," says Rotunno. But maybe, one might assume, there is an even greater motivation: the steady inflow of large checks.

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