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Harvey Weinstein's Bulldog lawyer who loathes #MeToo is the movie mogul's best weapon

It is one of the most hotly anticipated Hollywood openings – and a guaranteed box office hit.For there will no keeping the audience away when the case against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein starts in New York in a little over two weeks.It is dubbed the ‘trial of the century’ and American pundits are expecting the case to reach the same level of fever pitch as that of the infamous 1995 murder trial of former NFL player OJ Simpson.In a flurry of excitement, a dedicated television channel – describing itself as ‘must-watch’ – will be launched in America to provide viewers with every twist and turn.And what twists and turns there may be.Weinstein, who put Manhattan’s skyline in the Miramax logo, looks likely to lose his first battle tomorrow when his bid to have the case moved from New York City to Long Island is expected to be rejected.His legal team had argued he couldn’t possibly get a fair trial in New York – describing the city as the ‘epicentre of the #MeToo movement’, the social media campaign which started with outrage at the crimes with which Weinstein was accused.More bad news could come tomorrow when Weinstein is to appear at a preliminary hearing which will be presented with a revised indictment reportedly relating to The Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra. She claims that Weinstein raped her in 1993-94. The case is too old to prosecute but her allegation is needed at the trial, prosecutors say, to prove Weinstein is a ‘predator’ with multiple sexual offences against women.On the face of it, the future seems bleak for Weinstein, but The Mail on Sunday has learned that he has found new hope through his female lawyer, Donna Rotunno. Known as The Bulldog for her fearsome reputation defending men accused of sexual abuse, she has a track record of getting results.With her sharp jawline and steely glare, 44-year-old Rotunno, hired by Weinstein in June, is the unmistakable stand-out character among Weinstein’s trio of formidable female lawyers – the other two being Marianne Bertuna and Diana Fabi Samson.Rotunno, a fierce Chicago-based attorney, has built her whole career on defending men accused of sexual crimes, a niche she considers a noble cause. She believes that a female-dominated legal team will be especially useful in helping Weinstein convince a jury of his innocence.She told reporters: ‘I think just as if he were casting a movie, this is a circumstance where he needed the right lawyers. I think a woman standing here could make a difference.‘It creates a different atmosphere in terms of my ability to have a conversation with someone on the witness stand. I think it is more effective to have a woman asking a woman questions. I think I come across in a way that might not seem bullying or offensive in any way.‘I have the ability to get away with a lot more in a courtroom cross-examining a female than a male lawyer does,’ Rotunno added.‘He may be an excellent lawyer, but if he goes at that woman with the same venom that I do, he looks like a bully. If I do it, nobody even bats an eyelash. And it’s been very effective.’Ms Rotunno, who lives alone, dresses well for her starring role. She wears designer clothes – her favourite brands are Chanel and Salvatore Ferragamo – which she readily admits are carefully calibrated to convey both strength and femininity. She has been outspoken on how sexual assault complaints are viewed by police.She says: ‘Sexual assault is the only crime in our statutes where somebody can be charged with zero evidence to back up the allegation, other than someone’s word. If I went to the 18th District and said, “John Doe sold me nine kilos of cocaine,” but I don’t have the cocaine, I don’t have the money, I don’t have any proof that we had any communication, I have no text messages, the police would be like, “You’re crazy. Have a nice day.”‘But if I walk into a police station and say, ‘John Doe raped me,’ they ask me no more questions.’Rotunno has unleashed the big guns by taking aim at the #MeToo movement before the trial has even begun.Speaking on the day she was appointed, she claimed Weinstein has been ‘railroaded’ by the movement, saying: ‘The emotion of this case has taken over. There is a truth you have not reported on. I’m not a woman who has ever subscribed to it [#MeToo].‘I believe women are responsible for the choices that they make.’A source close to Weinstein told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘Ms Rotunno has only ever lost one sexual offences case out of around 40.‘She’s no-nonsense, she’s tough and she has a sharp instinct when it comes to sexual crime.‘Harvey respects her immensely and gives her a lot more leeway than he has with previous male lawyers. He feels very confident that she will help him be completely exonerated. They have been working closely, meeting every day she’s been in New York. As of Monday, she will be in New York every day f ...Read more

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