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Harvey Weinstein’s Lawyer Says Number of Accusers ‘Helps’ Mogul in Criminal Trial (Video)

In an interview with CNN, Donna Rotunno also discussed cross-examining Annabella Sciorra and the #MeToo movement

Donna Rotunno, one of Harvey Weinstein’s lead attorneys, says the sheer number of women who have come forward to accuse the disgraced movie mogul of sexual misconduct could actually help him in his criminal trial, which begins on Monday.

During a Saturday morning interview with CNN, host Michael Smerconish asked Rotunno how the court would be able to find a “fair and impartial jury” given that more than 100 women have publicly accused Weinstein of misconduct.

“In some ways, that number sort of helps us, because once the jury sits down and the jury hears that this is only about two women, I think they start to wonder how truthful those other circumstances are,” Rotunno said. “Or, if there were so many, why aren’t they a part of the criminal case?”

Weinstein, who has pleaded not guilty, faces five counts, including for predatory sexual assault and rape, based on the accusations of Mimi Haleyi and an unnamed woman for incidents they say occurred in 2006 and 2013. Rotunno also asserted that the defense has a “wealth of evidence” to show that the accusations “don’t rise to the level of rape,” and said that the jury could not factor whether Weinstein testifies or not into their decision-making process.

As for the more high-profile celebrities who have come forward — like Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd, Rosanna Arquette and Mira Sorvino — most of their accounts will not be factored into the upcoming trial because the alleged incidents took place outside the statute of limitations or did not take place in New York, where the trial is being held.

Still, at least one actress is expected to take the stand: Annabella Sciorra, who has accused Weinstein of rape. While Weinstein cannot be charged for her account of an incident in the early 199os, which falls outside the statute of limitations, her testimony is expected to bolster the prosecution’s case against Weinstein. And when asked by Smerconish about cross-examining Sciorra, Rotunno said she anticipated the actress would be an “excellent witness on the stand.”

“Annabella Sciorra is an actress, and she has spent an entire life acting for a living, and I anticipate that she will be an excellent witness on the stand,” Rotunno said. “I’m sure she will be prepared to answer my questions, she will be ready for what I am going to ask her, and again, I think the circumstances and the facts and the evidence in the case will show to the jury that she, her statements don’t rise to the level of what the prosecution is asking the jury to convict Mr. Weinstein on.”

Later in the interview, Rotunno commented on the #MeToo movement and cautioned against the adage of “believe women.”

“If we live under a system — whether it’s the justice system, whether it’s a system of social justice — to say that we must believe someone just because they make a claim, that’s problematic for you, for me, and for every American citizen,” Rotunno said. “I think there are many good things that come from #MeToo, but in the end, if #MeToo strips you of your rights to due process and a fair trial, then as a criminal defense attorney, I have to say that there’s problems with it.”

Watch the interview above.